Dark Tide review


darktide

After a fatal shark attack kills a diver under her command, the famed ‘Shark Whisperer’ vows never to enter shark-infested waters again. One year later, a thrill-seeking millionaire offers her a lucrative deal to take him to Shark Alley, the world’s deadliest feeding ground. To save her business, Kate must face her demons and accept his proposal

Dark Tide is a beautifully shot film with a respectable shark conservancy moral at its heart but it suffers from a dull narrative and saggy pacing.

Halle Berry gives one of the best performances that I’ve seen from her in years and her character is well-written and allows her to show some real range. Shark whisperer Kate Mathieson is the perfect hero for a creature feature as she’s a highly skilled, super competent, very moral and strong willed woman with a tragic backstory and enough agency to drive the narrative who is pushed to her breaking point. The rest of the cast put in fine performance whilst Mark Elderkin is hilarious and underused as ship hand Tommy.

The underwater sequences are amazing. It is undeniably thrilling to watch humans physically interact with huge sharks in their natural environment and the tension is raised to all-time highs by the almost complete lack of score. The silence blends so well with the slow visuals that the sequences are the highlights of the film and are sadly underused.

The biggest problem for Dark Tide is that it’s not as interesting as it thinks it is. Far too much screen time is dedicated to Mr and Mrs Berry’s estrangement issues, the father-son dynamic and the various boat issues when it should be spent on the sharks. The film only really picks up in the last 20 minutes which would make for a far more exciting focal point than the relationship based focus that we have.

Dark Tide feels very schizophrenic and unaware of the creature feature that it should be. There’s a singular scene in act 1 where a group of poachers get munched by sharks. Usually a scene like this is a great way to get some early shark action in to keep the audience engaged whilst the main narrative is still laying its foundations. But with near-black cinematography, wooden dialogue and inconsequential events (that are never mentioned again), the scene feels like it was edited in from a different movie. It’s like someone other than the film-makers decided that this character driven drama movie should be a creature feature and shoe-horned the scene in to fulfill monster movie formula i.e. monster attacks, body count, bad guys etc.

Despite hints of good ideas and some great performances, Dark Tide squanders a lot of its potential with a repetitive and dull narrative. It feels slow and plodding but the exquisitely handled underwater sequences ensure that the audience will get a worthwhile experience.


Profile Dark Tide (2012)
Director John Stockwell
Writers Amy Sorlie & Ronnie Christensen
Cast Halle Berry, Olivier Martinez, Ralph Brown, Mark Elderkin & Luke Tyler
Creature Great White Sharks
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