Monday, September 19, 2011

Shark Night 3D - Theatrical Review

(IN 2D)

Release Date: September 2, 2011

Teenagers being hunted down and killed by sharks! Sign me up! But wait a come I didn't get to see the shark kill that guy...? At least I get to see some naked chicks...huh? Why did she take her shirt off AWAY from the camera? Oh, I get it now. This movie is PG-13...what kind of bullshit is that!

Review Vital Stats:
Theater: AMC 12 Downtown Disney
Time: 12:45 pm September 4, 2011
Projector Type: Digital 2D
Film Rating: PG-13
Film Runtime: 1 hr 25 min
Studio: Relativity Media

Loves: Cheesy horror movies
Likes: Killer (fill in the blank) movies
Neutral: Having a formulaic movie try nothing new
Hates: R rated movies that are PG-13
Tease: This movie is a giant one

Sharks have been a faithful antagonist in horror films for quite some time now. I shouldn't even have to mention the quintessential shark movie of all time but just in case you were born yesterday (which is most likely the case anymore...I'm so old) I have to bring it up. Jaws scared the living shit out of everyone that watched it back when it was released and while not every film featuring the underwater eating machines has tried to copy what that film did so well there are those out there that still feel as though they have something to offer us. Probably my second favorite movie dealing with sharks as the killers has to be Renny Harlin's Deep Blue Sea (that should give an indication of the lack of good shark movies out there when those two movies, one being amazing and the other being alright, are in my top two). Why do I bring up both of those movies for this review? Well because Shark Night 3D is in fact an attempt at a recreation of both those films (at least it feels that way) while also trying to succeed at being your run of the mill teenage slasher flick. While those ambitions are noble I think in the end the filmmakers bit off more than they could chew.

Do we even need to know what this film is about? I am of course talking about the "story" going on here. I mean we have a group of college kids that head out to a lake for a weekend of partying with little regard to anything else. You have the nerdy white guy Nick (Dustin Milligan) who has been tutoring the star athlete of the school Malik (Sinqua Walls) and for a reward of his expert tutelage he and his nerdy but cool friend Gordon (Joel David Moore aka Avatar guy) are invited up to the lake house of the beautiful but oh so naive Sara (Sara Paxton). Along for the ride is Malik's fiance Maya (Alyssa Diaz) as well as the goth, hip and tattoo loving Beth (Kathrine McPhee) and pretty boy Blake (Chris Zylka) who moonlights as the school's art class model. This group of college kids arrive at the lake house and just when you think the beer is gonna run out there is a shark attack and this fun filled vacation quickly turns into a blood bath. Well shit, looks like I ended up doing it anyways...

This doesn't even deserve a comment.

Is there really anyone out there that thought this movie would be anything even remotely resembling a good movie? I didn't think so, but there are those of us out there (you know who you are) that go into films like this in hopes that it not only aspires to but attains the hallmark of being a movie that is so bad that it magically transforms into something that transcends its awfulness. One of my all time favorites in this sub-genre of film is the horribly misguided, impossibly bad, yet entertaining Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls, which is a film that is so revered for its ineptitude that there are experts who honor its trashy goodness with special screenings. But Shark Night is more in the class of films like last years Piranha 3D or the film that the internet killed, Snakes on a Plane (which by the way was made by the very same director of Shark Night, Mr. David R. Ellis).

What exactly is needed for a film like Shark Night to reach such lofty heights of bad cinema? First you need the set up, it needs to be a familiar setting with all the right plot devices in play. Second is the tone of the film, it needs to take itself dead serious without even a hint at self parody. Third is a tricky one, the effects used for the gore or creatures must be shoddy but in a semi-believable way. Lastly we need some third rate actors who are not very good at delivering their lines but still do so in a very earnest fashion as to make us believe that they and the filmmakers actually think they are making an Oscar worthy film. Shark Night meets nearly all those bullet points with only a few missteps and one huge oversight that puts it somewhere between a really good bad movie and a really boring bad movie.

If only they knew what kind of movie they were in...sigh.

It nails the setting without a doubt. A group of college kids going out for a weekend to party...all they needed were hooks in their backs and someone dangling them into the water to complete the metaphor. But they even go one further by mashing two horror genres into one. Now, the movie is called Shark Night but there is something else lurking around the lake that these kids need to fear. That is of course the locals who have all the subtlety of a transvestite hooker wearing a short skirt. When they first show up I think the redneck (named Red of course) with a mouth full of sharpened and filed shark teeth is all the evidence you will ever need that these guys are up to no good. And if that guy wasn't enough then perhaps his friend Keith (Damon Lipari) who is so horribly scared beyond recognition that it hurts to even look at the guy...ummm...about those scars...yeah...we will get back to him here in a little bit.

So yeah, it is discovered that these sharks are not just randomly killing off these kids after all. They have been put there and are UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE LOCAL HILLBILLIES! Yes, you read that right. This is the first shark/hillbilly movie hybrid ever and what a glorious piece of garbage it is. When that revelation came about I was floored, I mean who would have thought that the twist is that the killer hillbillies use the f**king sharks as their weapons! At that point I was fully on board with the setting of the film and this ludicrous plot development. I thought nothing else the film could come up with would ever top that inspired decision but I was wrong, I was very very wrong. Which leads me into the next thing this movie got right, taking itself completely serious without one hint of slapstick comedy to be found.

How do the hillbillies control them again...?

The big question after learning of the shark/hillbilly alliance was just exactly what the motivations were for the hillbillies to want to kill innocent college kids with sharks (like the idea itself isn't already a masterpiece of screenwriting). The answer to which is a bit of pure and simple genius on the part of whoever scripted this thing. It is pretty late into the movie when we learn this but after your typical exposition scene with the villains explaining their whole plan we get this one little nugget of information that quickly turned this movie from good/bad into awesome/bad. The hillbillies want to have their own Shark Week!..., now I'm gonna let that sink in for a second and once you have fully grasped the concept of hillbillies not only being fans of the fabled Discovery Channel show but loving it so much that they want to have their own black market version of it, you can join me in the next paragraph.

Alright, are we all comfortable with the idea of hillbillies controlling sharks and making them kill drunk college kids so they can start their very own knock off of Shark Week? This idea, while completely asinine, is some sort of radical genius at work. I don't care who you are or what your feelings are on movies of this kind, if the notion of some local hillbilly types trying to create their own Shark Week doesn't make you at least grin then you have some serious issues. And while this is the perfect set up for an outright spoof of the horror/slasher genre the film never once plays it anything but completely straight faced. When one of the killers is telling his master plan to one of the college kids he actually thinks that this is the greatest idea ever. Some how the fact that everyone takes this idea so seriously actually makes it even more humorous than if it was played for laughs.

Good thing nobody else saw that explosion or else they would have been rescued.

Oh but the fun doesn't stop there though, remember that horribly disfigured guy I mentioned a little bit ago, Keith. Well this one almost tops the whole Shark Week reveal and is quite possibly one of the best unintentional running gags in a movie of all time. So we learn from Keith that he was badly scarred from an accident involving a boat engine getting too close to his face (which we discover later was actually caused by Sara...gasp!). So how messed up is this guy actually...? He has a light scar under his right eye and...other than that he could be a f**king super model! Seriously, he looks like he just got out of the local gym and other than that one scar he could be the poster child for Men's Health magazine. What makes this scenario with him so crazy is that it is mentioned numerous times by him and others how badly scarred he is. What the f**k is wrong with these people? Either the make up van on set ran out of the tools needed to do the job or else it was intentional because there is no other explanation for such a blatant and in your face screw up. And don't even get me started on the nerdy guy Nick who also looks to be a super model if not for those geeky glasses they make him wear.

Once again though that leads into how stupid this movie is but by taking itself so seriously it almost cancels out any arguments that could be made against it for such stupidity. The last thing the film gets right is the acting which when compared to real movies is absolutely atrocious but when viewed from the perspective of someone actually looking for bad acting is just what the doctor ordered. Not one character in the entire movie ever becomes an actual character. They are all just running through the motions until they get ate by a shark. But whatever, as long as they get ate and we get to see it then all is forgiven right? Right...? Hold on there, that's right. WE NEVER GET TO SEE ANYONE GET ATE! Why is that you ask? Well I will give you a hint, it starts with a PG and ends with a 13.

Oh yeah, Shark Week bitch!

This is a deal breaker for me. Shark Week, shark toothed hillbillies controlling sharks, "disfigured" and "geeky" super models and all the bad CG in the world can't make up for the lack of the kill shot. PG-13 horror films often times are very underwhelming but they can be effective if you are looking to scare your audience as opposed to gross them out. Shark Night is not such a movie and with the lack of any sort of tension, good actors/characters and/or a novel idea (Shark Week is cool but not cool enough to carry an entire movie) it just kind of lays there limp on the ground like a beached whale. Even in a stupid ass movie like this we need that kill shot, we need to see these stupid kids get eaten and we need to see every bite. Piranha 3D got it right last year with a blood bath to end all blood baths and Shark Night just plays it safe which is a damn shame. The real detractor though is that there is no nudity (sense the sarcasm) and anyone looking for a quick upskirt or anything like that may be even more pissed than I am about not getting to see my college kids get eaten. Hey...I got it...maybe I should start my own version of Shark Night...I could head down to the local lake, find myself some hillbillies, wrangle up some sharks and then set them loose on some college kids. Then we can get that f**king shot of a college kid get eaten...F**K YOU SHARK NIGHT! This is how you do it!

*Ahem*...sorry about that. Anyway, this is a stupid movie. Let me say that again so you don't get the wrong idea from anything I said above, THIS IS A STUPID MOVIE. I just so happen to like stupid or even extremely bad movies for very strange reasons (they make me laugh and I love to tear them apart) but that doesn't mean everyone shares my same tastes. For anyone out there that shares my sensibilities you might get some enjoyment out of this limp fish but for everyone else out there I highly highly suggest that you...


...but if you do see it make sure to stay until the credits are over. You won't regret it.

And don't forget to check out our discussion on the film on The LRA Show which can be found at the following link:



Brian said...

Awesome review

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