Untitled 3D Shark Thriller (unofficial)
David R. Ellis
“A group of college students travel to a friend’s island for a party but become stranded when the surrounding lake is filled with deadly sharks.”
- Sara Paxton – Sara Palski
- Dustin Milligan – Nick LaDuca
- Chris Carmack – Dennis Crim
- Katherine McPhee – Beth
- Chris Zylka – Blake Hammond
- Joel David Moore – Gordon
- Sinqua Walls – Malik
- Alyssa Diaz – Maya
- Joshua Leonard – Red
- Donal Logue – Sheriff Greg Sabin
- Piranha 3DD – Chris Zylka
- Slither – Nick LaDuca
- Snakes on a Plane – David R Ellis
A big budget 3D theatrical release with plenty of potential that flounders after cuts and edits made to maintain ‘accessibility’ leave it sterile and without any bite.
A group of college students travel to a friend’s island for a party but become stranded when the surrounding lake is filled with deadly sharks.
Somewhere in the development of this film was a great idea. Take a bunch of young and attractive people, played by fairly good actors, dress them up in swimsuits and have them be stuck on an island surrounded by man-eating sharks, add in some reality TV / snuff film consumerism subtexts and film it all in 3D. How did we end up with something so boring, bland and forgettable?
Shark Night’s failure as a film actually makes for an interesting case study in the disparity between what film producers/ distributors believe audiences want and what they actually want. In order to succeed as a creature feature of this type three elements are necessary: gore, nudity and monsters. And throughout the film, Shark Night looks like it’s about to delivery on one of these fronts and then immediately cuts away.
The gore effects are very pretty but ultimately there is so little of them that I was awestruck, nearly every characters dies by being pulled underwater to be munched. That may make logical sense (these are sharks, after all) but it’s just boring and monotonous meaning that with the exception of a bitten off arm, there is nothing else to talk about on the matter. The nudity gets as far as bikinis and topless guys, there is one scene that teases some potential excitement but Shark Night wouldn’t be Shark Night if it didn’t cut away to something less interesting. By creature feature standards, the CGI sharks are actually pretty cool looking despite lacking the polish of A-movie standards. However this is not an issue as the sharks are barely seen, instead they act as a more theoretical danger – something the antagonists can threaten the protagonists with. The shark attacks themselves are also mostly monotonous and forgettable, built out of snappy editing techniques rather than practical effects (the only exception being the highlight of this film).
The clear reason for such sterilisation was to maintain the film’s PG-13 rating and appeal to as many people as possible without doing anything too risky to put people off. However the only people that would go see a 3D theatrical creature feature are the exact same people who are going to be pissed off when you cut out all the things that they came to see. Instead we are left with a creature feature for non-creature feature fans. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea to the producers/ distributors to maintain ‘accessibility’ for the general public but when you are making genre pictures then that is a seriously risky and often unsuccessful move.
Moving in to more positive waters, the 3D is never distracting but is hardly anything noteworthy, the acting on the whole is actually pretty good, the villains have an appropriately pseudo-sinister goofy plan and Joel David Moore is hilarious throughout. Actually the humour in Shark Night is one of its finer elements whether it be clever dialogue or comedic misdirection, however, it’s sadly not enough to make the film anywhere near decent nor does it make it re-watchable.
Shark Night sacrifices entertainment for marketability, what few good traits it has are diminished by the overpowering disgust of watching a film that has so noticeably been cut down. With no gore, nudity or any real shark glory shots, Untitled 3D Shark Thriller (believe it or not, the actual working title) is a textbook misfire that was born of a desire to please everyone but ended up pleasing no-one.