Lately with an abundance of shark related films, the choice of watching Discovery Channel’s Shark Week becomes a welcomed adventure, as the once feared and scary beast from Jaws (1975) is now nothing but CGI grandiose lunacy. Recently this reviewer, on a whim I ran a cursory tally of shark themed movies, which totaled over 45 easily, most originating from the past five years alone, triggering an avalanche of TV Movies and PG-13. However, this review is about the late David R. Ellis’ (RIP 2013) final film, who also did Snakes on a Plane (2006) and The Final Destination (2009), a man whose career spanned from a child actor to a stunt man and then helming the director’s chair. He created one last shark terrorizing flick with a bit of an interesting undercurrent, Shark Night 3D, with a rating of PG-13, obvious everything on the lighter fare to guaranteeing a demise to film in significant areas. First time feature film screenwriters Will Hayes (Disjointed – TV series) and Jesse Studenberg (this film his only credit ever) presents a lighthearted horror and more focus on thriller with drips of drama, strongly and smartly avoiding all forms of comedy. When the movie was released upon audiences, in 2011 3D technology and the industry went all in on the gimmick, appearing another shark movie, Jaws 3-D (1983).
A story of seven university undergraduates (finally the correct believable age compared to the actual actors) who pay a visit to their friend Sara’s (Sara Paxton, from The Innkeepers ) remote family vacation home deep in the saltwater bayou, unaware that sharks have staked out some nice waterfront hunting grounds. Before the tale gets going, up pops the first red herring Dennis (Chris Carmack), who has sinister looks to his ex-girlfriend Sara and hangs with his buddy, Red (Joshua Leonard also in (The Innkeepers). While the co-eds and very handsome and equally divinely beautiful, everyone knows in b-movies that villains bring an exquisite charm in any situation regardless of the odds and actions. The movie settles in, luring everyone into a calm easygoing manner, but after all the film contains the word ‘shark’ and their not on a summer diet to slim down, ever. The college undergrads include Malik, Gordon and Nick (Sinqua Walls, Joel David Moore and Dustin Milligan respectively) at Sara’s lake island house, and Blake, Maya and Beth (Chris Zylka, Alyssa Diaz and Katharine McPhee) all enjoying sins, beer, and wake board madness. Suddenly, a shark takes down and sheers off Malik’s arm with almost a laser chomp, sharks don’t have that skill set, and then decides to leave it unbothered. Hence, the storyline begins the slippery slope downward in logic. The collection of CGI enhancement and animatronic sharks doing unbelievable feats of attacks, of all styles most incredibly swimming close to 100 miles per hour (only 89 mph faster than reality) and leap out of the water like birds to the precise right angle to chomp on a wave runner rider. UGH! They built a story on bull sharks, already fast, agile, eating everything in sight, wicked predators, no need to enhance any further, stick to the human sharks far deadlier in the actions and motives. This script contains a larger and deadlier subplot with the motivation focusing on money and success of reality television, with true killing footage of sharks feeding for that internet market wanting hardcore kills and willing to pay for the content. Leading to Sheriff Sabin (Donal Logue) delivers a comedic line about television programming though at the oddest moment, yet still works.
Aside of the over-the-top antics of fake bull shark chomps, no feeding frenzy so accustomed to viewing during shark week, and closest to T&A, Sara’s bikini images. Remember, keep a twinkle in the eye, hands always visible and yawn for its all rated PG-13, the 3D aspects an interesting aspect, though the finest would likely be House of Wax (1953) with Vincent Price. The movie hints that this lake is Lake Pontchartrain, the second-largest saltwater lake in America, which touches on a bit of reality bull sharks swim and feed in the brackish at a regular space, ask any local angler in the area. Ellis’ movie found itself rotting on the beach, since not screening in advance to critics, which promptly slaughtered and left the carcass behind resulting in a stinking mess, which took longer to recoup the finances. The movie lacks gore content, the dialogue works here and there, and the only form in horror comes from the shark attacking scenes soaked red water.
The movie, sinks fairly fast, Shark Night 3D, finds itself leaning more into a so bad, but good, thanks to comedic lines by the sheriff and his reference to Faces of Death, balancing against a bias mentality of Dennis and a great but, very strange character performance from Leonard. Needless, no one expected the movie to achieve stellar acclaims, (but better than Jaws 3-D ) entertaining yes, but sadly waning further on, just like the 3D televisions in every home. Don’t remember a lot of other folks don’t either, however this movie will last a lot longer with that concept.
This review originally published on Rogue Cinema (now a defunct site) in June of 2016 with 1,435 views.
IMDb Rating: 4.0/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.0/10