Directed by: David R. Ellis (The Final Destination)
Starring: Dustin Milligan, Sara Paxton, Chris Carmack, Katharine McPhee, Donal Logue
I’ve somehow come to convince myself that buried deep under the dull malaise which is David R. Ellis’ Shark Night, there lies a decent trashy, schlocky horror flick. Apparently, Ellis—the director of the purposely bad Snakes on a Plane (2006)—thinks so, too, since he apparently toyed with the idea of actually putting the film out as Untitled 3D Shark Thriller. Since this is where all of Shark Night’s self-awareness begins and ends, perhaps someone should inform Mr. Ellis that—like Snakes on a Plane—just because you make a bad movie bad on purpose doesn’t mean it’s actually good. In fact, maybe you’re just an awful director. And if Shark Night is any indicator, then it’s definitely looking like the latter.
There’s a decent premise to build on if you wanted to make this an honest-to-goodness schlockfest, based around the wonderfully absurd idea that a group of rednecks have captured a bunch of sharks, surgically implanted cameras on them, and let them loose in a salt-water lake in Louisiana. The idea is that these sharks will feast on co-eds, while these resulting snuff films can be sold at a premium to people who don’t find the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week thrilling enough.
As the foundation of a goofy horror flick, this isn’t too shabby. It’s just that no one seems to want to put any effort into making this thing entertaining. There’s no mood or atmosphere, and instead we just get a lot of cliched college-kid antics (beer, partying, near-nudity) followed by the requisite slaughter by shark. None of it even approaches anything actually scary, and because of the film’s PG-13 rating, there’s not even enough gore to allow it to be a decent gross-out flick. So what do we have? A horror movie in the most barebones sense. Even the supposedly creepy rednecks aren’t all that creepy. I mean, only one of them has bad teeth.
In most ways Shark Night does accomplish what it sets out to be: It’s a dumb horror movie. But dumb and entertaining are hardly the same things, and this film fails to even skirt the outer limits of what constitutes a decent movie. As entertaining filmmaking, it’s negligible. Rated PG-13 for violence and terror, disturbing images, sexual references, partial nudity, language and thematic material.