Thursday, October 06, 2011

Shark Night


The best part of this film is actually post end-credits, where a music video of a rap song comes on with most of the cast hamming it up and performing very out of character, singing about the story, their characters and their demise, with clips from the film and that of behind the scenes during production. So don't leave the hall just yet because this comes on right at the end, which trumps the film proper since Shark Night was taking itself way too seriously.

Directed by David R. Ellis who was at the helm of films such as Snakes on a Plane and The Final Destination, you would have thought a film like Shark Night will be in safe hands, but alas the story by Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg found itself desperate in trying not to repeat the usual formula that so many shark films have found itself stuck in given the aftermath of Jaws. And it's not easy, so much so that in this story we have sharks, and not just one single species but a variety of them, existing in a salt water lake, and takes on some torture porn proportions, if not for Ellis' obsession in thinking that a film that has water and sharks, must feature plenty of tight buttock in bikini bottom shots prominently to please its intended target audience.

As the story goes we have a group of seven students who decide to spend a relaxing weekend in one of their friend's lake house, if only for a bad wakeboarding episode to spark off a series of incidents and raising their awareness that the waters in the lake isn't safe to be in given the presence of extremely stealthy characters. Ellis junks the idea of showing the fin in the horizon, an art perfected in Jaws and overutilized by anyone involved in a shark film production to try and ramp up suspense. Here, any buildup gets thrown out the window, opting for very direct, in your face chomping of limbs. There's a money shot involved which I have to admit is very well done on film involving a flying shark, although this could be something that exists only in the movies.

Don't expect any power-acting from any of the cast members, led by Sara Paxton playing her namesake and the rest playing the usual caricatures - the male himbo, the female slut, an athlete, the nerd and so on, or plot development that has depth that goes beyond the usual numbers being made into fodder, with the introduction of a sheriff and two additional good for nothing hoodlums. As with most monster movies, the central plot involved staying alive and getting out of the danger area, and it's nothing different in Shark Night as well, with events transpiring over the course of 24 hours, with an introductory kill thrown in for good measure.

Special effects wise, perhaps I did not view this in 3D as its intended format that the entire film lacked depth and looked way flatter than any other normal 2D film. The sharks looked horribly CG-ed and unrefined in the final product on film, and I thought this kind of shoddy work would have been more forgivable if this was a direct-to-video title rather than something meant to be projected on a large screen. Ideas were clearly running dry as well with each kill over relying on shots that featured water from a jacuzzi, with the fateful human victim thrashing around and underwater shots of sharks exercising their razor sharp teeth.

Shark films are really a dime a dozen and it's indeed a challenge to come up with something truly different and worthwhile of one's time. Unfortunately Shark Night isn't the messiah, although I suspect one will get a lot more from it if it's viewed in gimmicky 3D, since there were plenty of shots with the sharks leaping toward the screen, jaws wide open and primed for some major chomping.

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