In 1975 Steven Spielberg created the defining shark movie of all time: Jaws. it’s the movie that every “creature feature” featuring these apex predators or similar killer fish like Piranhas and Killer Whales are compared and lose to. Maybe because at its core Jaws is not so much about a shark killing people but more about the three men who sail out to kill it. The movies that followed in its footsteps were of a more exploitative nature where skinny dipping girls and ripped guys served as bait for these water bound killers. Last year gave us a breast throwback with Piranha 3D which recognized its sleazy origin from two decades back and poked fun at itself and gave the audience what it expected: big breasted nude women getting torn apart by fishes. It thrived on its R-rating and sadly, Shark Night has a PG-13 rating.
This movie is caged by it. It feels like a restrained movie because everything is here for a cheap schlock-fest but it just never delivers. To keep it PG-13 there is no tit in sight, at least not in front of the camera. The movie opens like most of these movies open. With a couple we never really get to know as the first victims. The first shots of the girl who gets eaten by a shark are voyeuristic underwater shots of her butt and whatnot. Her boyfriend takes her top off, but we never get to see her rack. That’s the kind of movie this is; trying to be exploitative as possible for the teen crowd. After the opening scene we skip to college where we meet our stereotypical cast. The first shot of campus is a close up of a woman’s ass walking away from the camera. She has nothing to do with the entire movie other than to show her ass in a shot. I wonder if she showed this movie to her family yelling “Oh look, that’s me!”. The scenes in college are actually the only ones where we see our cast “dressed”. To illustrate that more precise: the first time we see the female protagonist, Sara Paxton, the camera closely scans her sweating hard body in a gym. Sadly no shower scene afterwards.
And girls, there’s enough teasing for you to: one of the group is a nude model for art classes and as such we get to see him in action. The token black guy also clearly spends more time at the gym than in his study books and the main male protagonist is one of the most unconvincing nerds ever. I have never seen spectacles that are more obviously fake than he’s wearing.
The rest of the movie has the entire cast running around in bikinis and swim shorts.
I mentioned earlier how the cast was made out of stereotypes. There’s the blond virginal woman who hasn’t had a man in three years due to some trauma about nearly drowning which her then-boyfriend did nothing to prevent. She even scarred his face pretty bad and he’s one of the villains of this story next to the sharks of course. There’s the nerdy, but still hunky white lead. There’s actual nerdy character belayed by Avatar’s Joel David Moore who fancies the rebellious Beth. Why is she rebellious, you dare to ask? Because she has tattoos is a brunette. I mentioned the poser earlier as well as the token black guy who has a latino girlfriend. Guess who of these people become the first portions of shark bait? If your answer was “the minorities” you won yourself a great big pad on the shoulder. Congratulations!
There is a list of horror cliches and the latest addition to that list is that events take place in such remote areas there is no signal. Even before they reach their destination the obligatory line is delivered: guys, check your phones now because once we hit water we don’t have any reception. It’s the “I’ll be right back” of the 00’s. When you just show where the movie takes place, which is the occasion here, I think the audience is smart enough to understand that in the middle of nowhere there is hardly to no reception.
To explain the appearance of a variety of man-eating sharks in a salt water lake the writers have come up with an elaborate scheme that defies all logic. It might be thought up by rednecks, but I still don’t understand how they can get away with this, when the product they want to sell is all the evidence needed to sent them away for life.
As a horror movie Shark Night is also chained by the restriction of a PG-13 rating. Some blood in the water and a bitten off arm are the only elements worth mentioning. Most of the times we just see a mediocre CG-shark with its mouth wide open swimming or jumping towards the camera, and then it just fades to black.
Did I mention that the sharks actually roar like lions?
Shark Night is not the movie it could have been, not by a long shot. It’s never exciting, has no thrills and all the girls keep their tops on. If this movie would have embraced an R-rating like Piranha did it could have been a fun ride full of tits, guts and gore, now it just has some cheap thrills. For a movie about killer sharks it sure has hasn’t got the bite you would expect.