The trouble with your basic shark movie is that it’s never going to live up to the daddy of them all, namely Jaws. An example of pretty much perfect filmmaking, Steven Spielberg’s classic blockbuster set a standard that very few have even come close to being mentioned in the same sentence, let alone be directly compared. And considering the amount of shark films that have been made in the last fifteen-or-so years you would have thought there would have been at least one film to break through and offer some competition. Renny Harlin’s 1999 thriller Deep Blue Sea offered a straight-up shark adventure without any of the dramatic sub-plots or character-based storytelling of Jaws, and was probably the best example of the genre since 1978′s Jaws 2, which in iself lacked the original’s subtleties but was still a decent enough film. So does Shark Night offer up anything new in the way of tension, suspense, thrills or special effects?
The plot (ha!) centres around a group of college students who have gone to the lake house of their friend Sara (Sara Paxton) for a weekend of fun. But fun soon turns to terror when the group become the victims of not just one but several sharks placed in the lake by a couple of locals, who have had the bright idea of filming shark attacks for the ultimate reality footage to put on the internet.
Selling itself as a fun, b-movie in the same vein as Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3-D, Shark Night (or Shark Night 3-D if you have the Blu-ray) is actually a dull, by-the-numbers, sharks-attack-dumb-youngsters film that makes Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus seem like Jaws in comparison. Alright, that analogy may be a little generous but at least Mega Shark… knew what it was and had a sense of humour about it. Shark Night takes itself way too seriously, and pretty much all of the cast don’t seem to realise what sort of film they’re making. Only Joshua Leonard as Red seems to have a bit of fun in his role and plays it with a bit of a wink at the camera.
The sharks themselves are pretty unconvincing, especially when they’re leaping out of the water or coming into contact with any victims. They’re better than the shark in Mega Shark… but only just. It seems the animatronic shark used in Jaws is still the best to be seen onscreen – maybe that says something about using CGI instead of an actual psysical prop.
As you can tell there really isn’t a great deal to recommend in this film. The acting in the main is terrible, the script is laughably bad, the kills happen off camera, the special effects are ropey at best and the overall tone is one of total joylessness, so it makes you wonder what the point of it all is. If you can’t even compete with the lesser films of the genre – like Open Water or The Reef, which both had their faults but at least they tried and were entertaining on a certain level – then really, what is the point? Avoid.