SHARK NIGHT 3D
RUNNING TIME:94 mins
DISTRIBUTED BY:Entertainment Film Distributors
REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Somewhere in Louisiana, two young people are having some fun in the water when one of them is eaten by a shark. Meanwhile seven undergraduates – Sara, Nick, Beth, Malik, Maya, Blake and Gordon – drive to Sara’s family vacation home on a private Louisiana lake. There, Sara encounters her unpleasant ex-boyfriend Dennis and other locals don’t seem entirely welcoming. Then a shark attacks Malik while he is waterskiing and bites off his arm, and when Nick goes into the water to rescue him, he barely makes it out alive. It seems that the lake is populated by a variety of sharks, and they are very hungry…………
As an unabashed fan of monster movies including ones featuring ‘real’ animals like sharks, I would love to tell you to ignore the bad reviews and the fact that it wasn’t shown to critics, and go see Shark Night 3D, because it’s pretty good. Unfortunately I can’t say that at all, because the film is a major disappointment that doesn’t even deliver much of what it appear to promise – sharks bloodily attacking people. Of course most shark movies work on a primal level, because whether seen in full or just glimpsed as a fin moving on the water, the creatures remain bloody scary [even if humans kill far more sharks then sharks kill humans] and it would take a truly crappy filmmaker not to evoke some tension. You’ll therefore probably derive a bit of enjoyment from Shark Night 3D,but nowhere near as much as you would expect. It certainly doesn’t come anywhere near Piranha, for example.
After some pretty good credits with lots of images [some maybe real] of sharks attacking people and thumping heavy metal guitars on the soundtrack which make a nice difference from the kind of music you would expect to here, we get into the first shark killing and it’s reasonably well staged. Unfortunately, after that we have to spend half an hour or so with our protagonists before anything else exciting happens. I know films like the Friday The 13th movies did this, but there were usually a few scattered moments of uneasiness, of tension building, eerie happenings etc. to keep things interesting. Here, all we have are a few unpleasant run-ins with locals who all seem to be drunks, lecherous or both, and some of the introductory scenes are awkward in the extreme. Still, the area they are in doesn’t allow for mobile phone signals, so considering that being unable to text is probably many young person’s worst nightmare these days, that’s one very bad thing right there. When the attacks start to mount up, the script still wastes time on lengthy scenes of supposed ‘drama’, such as Malik weeping about his dead girlfriend. The acting isn’t too bad in these scenes, but they are terribly written and mostly pointless. We want sharks, goddamnit, and the film’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t give us enough of what we want. I know Jaws didn’t have its beastie on screen very much, but Steven Spielberg got away with it because his movie was just so brilliant in every other way. David R. Ellis, who made the fairly fun Snakes On A Plane and the two worst Final Destination films, doesn’t.
When they are actually seen, the sharks are either animatronic or CG and look crap either way. I liked seeing a variety of different breeds of shark for once, but it seems that the writers Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg didn’t have much knowledge of sharks, as many of the breeds would not have been able to survive in a saltwater lake anyway, nor jump in the air like ninjas. The deaths mainly avoid graphic gore and, while it’s not essential to a film, I think this particular one would be benefitted from some. An attack by tiny cookiecutter sharks is quite nasty though and there is much threatening of the female leads, including one scene where I thought a woman was going to be raped, but the second half of the film, despite a fairly hair-raising climax involving someone trapped in an underwater cage, concentrates too much on human villainy. There is some timely comment on modern society’s obsession with reality TV, and one particularly good speech by one character [“Faces Of Death ……….once banned in fourty countries. Nowadays, an eight year old can download it for free”], but for the most part everything is very run-of-the-mill, as if the filmmakers are holding back.
One thing that is pretty good is some of the 3D. Now as I’ve said several times before, I’m not really a fan of the format which to me still has yet to be perfected, but some of the underwater scenes are quite impressive, really giving the sensation of being in the water, with bubbles and sea plants so close you feel you can touch them. There’s also a wonderfully tacky moment of a shark leaping right out at you which would have been quite frightening if the shark had looked any good. All the stuff on land though may as well have been shot in 2D for all the difference it makes. Ellis’ direction has the odd quirk, such as a couple of annoying bits near the beginning where everything is speeded up, but overall he stills proves himself a distinctly average filmmaker. The acting by the predominantly young cast is quite good though,certainly better than you would expect, though I liked Donald Logue as the slightly sinister Sheriff Sabin best. Shark Night 3D had great potential, and I suppose it is quite fun in places in a ‘B’ movie way, but overall they botched what could have been a great guilty pleasure. O well, maybe Dark Tide will be better.