Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shark Night 3D

When I first saw the trailer for Shark Night 3D, I was pretty excited.  I love me some hilariously bad horror and the inclusion of sharks guaranteed the inclusion of gratuitous violence and nudity.  While I didn't love Piranha 3D, this movie looked much less campy and far more so-bad-it's-good.  Aaaaand then I noticed that Shark Night 3D was rated PG-13.  So much for gratuitous anything, which pretty much eliminates anyone's need to watch this movie.  Or does it...?

Shark Night 3D opens with a hot chick in a bikini the water by a lake.  I would say she was treading water, or bobbing around, but she was definitely only in the water up to her ribs, so...maybe she was jazzercising?  Whatever.  The camera keeps cutting to an underwater view, getting closer and closer until AAAA!  ...Oh, it was just her boyfriend.  Scary.  After the boyfriend reminds the audience that this is PG-13 --- he takes her top off and throws it away, as she remains unexposed in the water --- the girl is killed by something underwater.  It's hard to say what, though.  Sure, the movie title would imply a shark, but she is in shallow water and you don't see a fin.  It's also hard to figure out what body part of hers is being pulled as she thrashes in the water.  From the above-water shots, it looks like something has got her leg, but the underwater shots clearly show her legs unmolested.  Maybe it's a ghost shark?  Whatever.  She served her purpose.
Shark bait!  Moo-ha-ha!
The movie proper begins with college undergrads Nick (Dustin Milligan) and Gordon (Joel David Moore) being invited to hang out with the cool kids at Sara's (Sara Paxton) lake house, which is actually an island house in a lake.  Obviously, these coeds (who also include possible up-and-comers Alyssa Diaz, Chris Zylka, and singer Katharine McPhee) are looking for a weekend of sinning, but they settle for MPAA-approved activites, like playing beer pong on an inflatable beer pong table and wake boarding. There's just one thing these kids forgot: sharks hate coeds.  While wake boarding, a shark goes after Malik (Sinqua Walls), eventually taking his arm off with a remarkably clean bite.  So, big surprise, everybody --- the black guy in a horror movie is the first to die.  Actually, that's not quite true...not only does Malik survive, but the shark leaves his arm, unchewed, on the bottom of the lake.
It didn't attack for this a hate crime?
Everybody initially assumes that Malik's arm was cut off by the boat propeller, but that nonsense thankfully lasts only a few minutes.  Actually, the director manages to take out two birds with one stone, dispelling that annoying idea and showing off what little T&A this movie can show:
"OMG, it's a shark!  Now...bend over a little more..."
From this point on, college undergraduates are on the menu for the sharks.  Yes, "sharks" plural.  Normally, I would laugh at the notion of sharks living in fresh water, but this movie hints that this lake is Lake Pontchartrain, the second-largest salt water lake in America.  Theoretically, if a shark found its way into the lake (which is right by New Orleans), it could survive, provided the temperature is right and it has a decent food supply. 
Example of "food supply"
How will these coeds keep themselves safe?  Certainly not by staying out of the water.  Thankfully, Shark Night 3D also adds some human villains to complicate matters.  One thing is for certain: it's going to be a long night for these innocent young adults.  A long SHARK night!  **sound of me high-fiving myself**

I don't even know where to begin discussing with Shark Night 3D.  The acting, maybe?  Well, there isn't much of it.  To be completely honest, I wasn't bothered by any of the actors.  I thought everyone played their parts about as well as the script asked for. 
It didn't ask for much, though
I found the non-college cast to be a little more interesting than the main cast.  Something makes me want to like Donald Logue, but I have no idea why, since he doesn't make good movies.  His monologue did provide some of the best unintentional laughs in the film, though.  I also liked the idea of Chris Carmack's character being upset for being "horribly disfigured;" he took a propeller to the face as a teen and looks like this:   
Casper Van Dien?
Joshua Leonard is more amusing, playing a redneck racist who sharpened his teeth into points.  I wonder if his character has anything to do with the sharks in the lake?

Director David R. Ellis has always been a hack, and Shark Night 3D is just the same old thing for him, only with 3D effects.  Ellis' movies have always had an R-rating to make them at least exploitative enough to be occasionally enjoyable, but he was definitely limited by the PG-13 rating.  I don't have a problem with  PG-13 horror movies, in theory.  But they can't be made the same way that R-rated horror movies are, since they can't show the same things.  While I truly believe that a shark attack movie without gore is pure idiocy, this could have worked if Ellis had tried to build suspense or built a mystery.  He didn't.  He went for sensational ridiculousness because that is what he knows best, but the film's rating makes his shocks and scares feel cheap.
A possible mystery: why is the shark wearing lipstick?

Of course, no one expected Shark Night 3D to actually be a good movie.  The goal was for this to be an entertaining movie, and it does have its moments.  The highlights:
- The shark breaching the water to kill the jetski rider was hilarious
- Main guy to douchey guy who is a nude model for art classes: "I had the pleasure of sketching your genitals every Tuesday and Thursday"
Douchey guy: "You're welcome"
And that's where most people's highlights would end.  But there are those who would watch this movie hoping to make it into a fun movie to get drunk to --- I get that impulse, too, sometimes.  Shark Night 3D is not the droid you're looking for, though.  Yes, the reasoning for why there are sharks in the lake is absolutely hilarious on a conceptual level.  Yes, the behavior of the sharks is amusingly unnatural; if you can do the math to explain how a shark could time the jetski death*, I will be forever thankful if you explain it in the comments.  Yes, there are more than a few moments where you will wonder whether or not something was intentional in this film.
Accidental, or really racist?  You decide
Focusing on those things can make this movie a little funny.  But there is a toll when you watch this film: it's boring.  Without gore or gratuitous nudity, you are left with a bad script with wretched dialogue and mediocre special effects.  The body count doesn't even hit double digits.  The tone of the movie is similar to that of David R. Ellis' Snakes on a Plane, just minus the foul language, violence, and nudity that made that movie fun to watch.  I'm not saying that you can't be a little entertained by watching it --- that is why I'm not spewing hate at this movie --- but there are so many better options than Shark Night 3D.

* Okay, so this guy is speeding on a jetski, being chased by sharks, right?  Right.  He turns to look back, and when he looks ahead again, he sees a gigantic shark breaching the water ahead of him and jumping right for him.  The combination of his speed in one direction and the shark's in the other works perfectly to kill the jetski rider.  But look closer at the scene:
The shark breached the water with barely any margin for error!  How could it time that leap so perfectly on a target that was moving toward it?  What is the margin for error here?  For that matter, how was the shark aware of the jetski rider in the first place?  Whatever the answers, I think we can all agree that this is one talented shark.


  1. Great review. This movie really would have benefited if they just went for the R Rating.

  2. I'm glad you liked the review. This was definitely going to be a dumb movie one way or the other, but a R-rating would have made it waaaaay more fun.