Tuesday, September 3, 2013

SHARK NIGHT (2012)

IMDB keywords: comeuppance, singing in a car, camera focus on female butt


Directed by David R. Ellis, who directed FINAL DESTINATION 2, but also THE FINAL DESTINATION, so don't get your hopes up.  The opening credits are pretty stunning: a parade of assorted scary sharks skulking through red water.  After that, we meet our cast—a multiethnic and multihobbied band of college students who are headed to a lake in Louisiana to escape the pressures of Tulane life.  They boat out to an island, WHICH IS OUT OF CELL PHONE RANGE (the movie really wants you to understand this), and commence to debauch.


JK, this is a theatrically-released PG-13 horror film about sharks eating people!  Let's party without exposing secret parts or cussing!


We'll get to the plot momentarily, but I want to thank SHARK NIGHT for its cast.  These aren't no-talents from the roadside strip bars trying to outthink sharks, they are established actors.  It really does make a big difference.  It's fun to see faces you know, like Joel David Moore from HATCHET...


and Sara Paxton...


Even though this film was justifiably not named ACTING NIGHT.  'Kay, so, the plot, spoilers included from here on.  Travel to lakes in Louisiana always involves risk.  In this case, a major risk is rednecks with neck tattoos and rough dentition.  The gang get harassed while they're just trying to buy booze and pee in improbably-clean Southern bathrooms.  Remember this animosity...


...because it's a major component of SHARK NIGHT's almost commendably dumbass plot.  When sharks show up in the lake, we as an audience are supposed to be surprised.  Those of us who lived in Louisiana will think, "Oh, it must be Lake Pontchartrain, where bull sharks really do swim up from the Gulf sometimes".  But no.  NO!  This is a different lake, a salt-water one.  And it's not just bull sharks, it's hammerheads and tiger sharks and great whites and all manner of sharks from all climates.  And they've been brought here by REDNECKS to make SHARK SNUFF FILMS to sell to reality-death enthusiasts!


BOOM in the shot!   Motherfucking shark snuff films!  When this movie got boring (as happened, a lot), I tried to mentally parse out the business plan for such an enterprise.  It would obviously cost to import the sharks and you'd have to pay for the cameras to affix to them, plus bandwidth.  So if we're talking a per-item model for this very niche market, each video would have to cost around $37,000 to cover the costs plus a modest profit.  I did like one of the snuff guys discussing the lucrative side of reality death entertainment, including literally mentioning FACES OF DEATH.


So the plot's pretty bullshit and there's minimal PG-13 violence and no sex or birthday suits.  So that leaves the sharks to save our Shark Night.  Honestly, some of the sharks here look pretty solid.  It was impressive that the filmmakers included so many species rather than just the overhyped and diva-esque great whites.  Is this the first time the cookie-cutter shark has been in a horror film?


But then sometimes they look merely okay, like the white above ("Make it eviller!" was yelled at the CGI people), and then occasionally they look like godawful cartoons, like the bull sharks.  Plus there's not nearly enough shark-jumping (as in sharks jumping, not that thing people say on the Internet).  If sharks are athletic enough to chase and catch motorboats, surely they can soar onto docks and through windows to make the movie a little better?  Overall, a good goofy premise, but it seems that the rating restraints sincerely hurt this one.  A shade below average.

RATING: 4

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