12 Days of Terror Reviews
An ocean community is shocked when a series of shark attacks plague their waters right around the 4th of July holiday, threatening to impact their summer business. Although the initial victim clearly died due to a shark attack, the coroner poo-poos this idea, claiming any number of things could've caused this swimmer's death. Much discussion ensues about whether the beaches should be closed, but a stubborn mayor refuses to give the order. The consequences are disastrous, because the shark's next victim is a young boy. A reward is soon offered for the shark's death. A marine biologist arrives from out of town to help make sense of the monster's actions, and puts forth the theory that the shark is both a Great White and rogue. Meanwhile, a gruff, cantankerous captain does everything in his power to get rid of the predator, chewing up nearly as much scenery as the shark itself. The final act of the movie is an extended shark hunting sequence, with three men alone on the ocean, in the crazy captain's dilapidated boat.
Nope... doesn't ring a bell.
It's no secret that Jaws was based (loosely) on the real-life 1916 New Jersey shark attacks, and this made-for-TV film dramatizes the events perfectly. But the movie feels like an "also ran", directed with far less artistry than Spielberg's film, and boasting a much less inspired cast. (Even John Rhys Davies, who plays the Quint-like character here, barely seems to be going through the motions.)
It doesn't help that the plot feels old and tired, while Jaws felt new and fresh upon its release. Even some of the dialogue here is virtually recycled from Spielberg's classic... compare 12 Days of Terror's "This boat looks kind of small," to Jaws' "We're gonna need a bigger boat". And the screenplay, co-written by Halloween III's Tommy Lee Wallace, never quite captures the feeling of a community in terror. A few individual people, yes, but not an entire town.
Although I greatly enjoyed the 1916 setting, and the warm, slightly sepia tones employed by the cinematographer, I can't really recommend 12 Days of Terror. It's an interesting companion piece to Spielberg's film, but not terribly significant beyond that.
(Although the shark looks pretty good.)