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A joyless excursion into the water that doesn't even produce good gore or nudity thanks to the neutered PG-13 rating.
All Critics (69)
| Top Critics (11)
| Fresh (13)
| Rotten (56)
| DVD (4)
Shark Night, handled with impersonality by Snakes on a Plane pilot David R. Ellis, aspires to nothing more or less than carrying along an audience through a string of unremarkable kills, often involving high-jumping fish.
A second round is out of the question. Unless, of course, they called it "Gladys Knight 3D.'' Then all is forgiven.
The sharks are rubber and the performances are wooden and that's just about all you need to know.
The result is a movie that isn't crummy, exactly, just blah: when the freakiest teeth on screen belong not to one of Walt Conti's animatronically realized sharks but to a good-ol'-boy called Red, you know you have a problem.
Sharks have it bad enough as endangered, misunderstood predators with a terrible public relations image without seeing their serial-killing stardom drowned out by hammy acting and torture-porn villainy.
It doesn't even live up to the minimal promises of the title: There isn't enough shark action, it mostly takes place during the day, and the 3-D only asserts itself in a couple of shots.
Ellis does a good job with timing and cuts together what looks like footage of real sharks with his actors in a way that makes us take notice without having too many shots where what we may assume is an animatronic shark is in frame with a performer.
No matter how hastily pieced together the film feels, you can't help but admire Ellis' tenacity... It's just a shame it's not any good.
When I wasn't laughing at the scenes of sharks leaping out of the water to attack their prey (in trees! on jetskis!) I was questioning the happy coincidence of a runaway motorboat heading directly towards a pier littered with flammable gas tanks.
An atrocious waste of time, this "Night" is one you'll quickly forget.
Predictable. Disposable. Listless. Boring. This is not how you make great horror films.
The most disturbing sequence comes after the end credits, actually, when the actors are shown performing together on a really bad rap video.
Shark Night 3D is a horrible film that is one of the most unoriginal pieces of crap I've seen in quite some time. David R. Ellis who made a previous nature gone wild theme horror film with Snakes on a Plane misses the mark entirely with this one. The films plot is nothing new, in fact it's predictable. We all know what happens with this one. The story is bad, the film rides on all the usual clichés, not to mention that the cast is awful and can't act. Ellis made a good film with Snakes on a Plane; it was a fine tribute to B movie comedy horror in my book. However with this one, it simply doesn't deliver the goods. After all those dreadful; Jaws sequels, you'd think they would stop with making bad shark films. Well, I guess they didn't learn their lesson. This film is just poorly made, with no heart and it's not even one of those films that are worth watching for a mindless night of dumb fun. As a horror film, it fails, this is stupid, pointless and overall a train wreck of a film. This so poorly crafted, so lazily made that you don't care for any character, in fact the only thing you care about is the end credits because at least now the horror of sitting through this film is over. This film never should have been made, and is not a good nature gone wild film. Watch the original Jaws for real shark terror and Joe Dante's Piranha for real fun. This simply doesn't deliver. Well it delivers on the mediocrity and it's something it has plenty of. This film might have succeeded if more care went into writing a consistent script, which is something that is clearly absent from this film. This is a film that is not worth your time, and there are far better films in the genre to watch. One of David R. Ellis' worst films, Shark Night is a cliché fest from start to finish simply designed to make a quick buck.
Hmm. Sometimes you know a movie is going to be bad before you even watch it. This is especially true in the Horror genre. Even though the movie is crap, sometimes a few brutal kills and some good laughs will at least, make things entertaining. Then there's dog shit like "Shark Night". There is no redeemable quality to "Shark Night" at all. While watching the atrocity, I was constantly reminded that I was wasting my time. The movie was castrated from the get go. The asinine PG-13 rating extracted all of the adult content necessary to make a movie like this successful. The story is, of course. ludicrous and the effects are embarrassing. 3-D movies from the 80's would point and laugh relentlessly at what is offered here. Which is really insulting, considering they smear '3D' in the title. You might want to avoid "Shark Night".
Blake: What are all these sharks doing here?
"Terror runs deep."
Shark Night wants to be a movie like Piranha. It wants to be a fun, exciting, and humorous blood feast, but it makes a huge mistake in going PG-13. Movies like this have to be rated R. Piranha was a success because it had tons of gore and tons of boobs. That's what the genre is made of. This went light on everything. The gore was lackluster and the boobs weren't there at all. So now in order to be a decent movie it has to actually be inventive and original in a way that this genre just can't be anymore; and it wasn't. The movie was stupid in ways you'd expect and in other ways that are surprising. It isn't humorous, you'll laugh at it, not with it. All in all, it is one of the worst movies you'll see in the killer fish genre.
Obviously movies like this aren't trying to be the next Jaws because it just isn't possible. They need to be fun in different ways in order to succeed and Shark Night just wasn't able to do that. It was lifeless and at times just plain boring. The kills were terrible and the sharks looked just as bad. The filmmakers also went to great lengths to have stuff jump at you because everything has to be in 3D. There was a lot of fast motion scenes. We can see what they were going for; a fast paced, blood soaked extravaganza. Too bad what we were given was 80 minutes of boredom and cliches.
Killer fish movies need to look at Piranha and see what it did. The makers of that knew they weren't making a great movie, but they also knew how to make it appeal to fans of the genre. Here they lost sight of that and sinfully thought they were doing something cool. Were they ever wrong.
Piranha 3D was a horror movie that knew exactly what it was doing, and good gravy it did it well. Here was a horror comedy that brilliantly provided campy thrills, over-the-top mayhem, salacious T&A, and a jubilant sense of humor. It was a glorious 1980s-esque exploitation film adapted to modern times. In the wake of Piranha 3D came the pitiful Shark Night 3D, which was marketed with a similar celebratory exploitation angle. Besides the unifying aquatic threat, the two movies, however, couldn't be any more different. Shark Night 3D is to Piranha 3D what Branson, Missouri is to Vegas.
It's spring break on the Bayou, and seven friends are heading out to Sara Palski's (Sara Paxton) family house on the lake. Nick (Dustin Milligan) has a full course load as a pre-Med major, so he's looking to relax and finally make a move with his crush on Sara. Along for the ride are geeky Gordon (Joel David Moore), future NFL first-round pick Malik (Sinqua Walls), his girlfriend Maya (Alyssa Diaz), the rebellious party girl Beth (Katherine McPhee), and her ex-boyfriend, the self-absorbed Blake (Chris Zylka). Their revelry is interrupted when they discover that the lake is filled with all kinds of sharks. A group of menacing local rednecks terrorizes the gang and plan to feed them to the sharks.
What this movie reminds me of are the watered down soft-core "comedies" that used to grace the late night airwaves on the cable channel USA. Somebody had the bright idea to take movies that were primarily made to titillate with casual T&A; when you strip away those base exploitation elements, which in this case was sex and nudity, then you're left with 90 minutes of strained filler and really flat jokes. That's what Shark Night 3D (in non-3D) feels like. Ignoring the fact that Paxton (Last House on the Left) runs around in a bikini for 90 percent of the movie, the film is lacking guts of all kinds. The closest you'll get to skin is some brief side boob from American Idol alum, and quizzically ever-present actress, Katherine McPhee (The House Bunny). I want to state for the record that giving McPhee a nose stud and some lower back tattoos is the unconvincing PG-13 translation of making her into a "bad girl." I wouldn't be as miffed about the omission of the exploitation elements if the movie presented a compelling story or some well-orchestrated suspense sequences. It presents itself as an exploitation film, replete with plenty of underwater POV shots of bikini bottoms but it pulls back at every opportunity, cruelly teasing the audience with the promise of something better, but better never comes.
Its ideas of suspense revolve around lame jump scares and quickly resolved sequences where characters are picked off by the sharks. The movie sets up a dramatic scenario and doesn't waste much time. Characters get picked off with mordant efficiency, and yet there's no pizazz to these deaths, no memorable or gruesome moments. Hope you like seeing people pulled under red water. Unlike Deep Blue Sea, an enjoyable campy outing, these sharks are just regular sharks and yet they behave like genetically engineered killing machines, leaping out of the water to snatch prey at high altitudes. They even know how to break an onboard motor, which sounds like the work of a shark suicide bomber. There's never really a great explanation for why the sharks are even doing in a lake. Granted, it's stated to be a salt water lake and spillovers from high waters have been known to deposit oceanic creatures inland, but then the dumb redneck characters take credit for the shark attacks. They say they put them in the lake. I don't believe this for a second, nor do I believe that these goons are secretly clever when it comes to advanced technology. Their whole scheme, which includes one of them philosophizing about "moral relativism," is completely unbelievable, as well as their crazy get rich quick scheme.
If you're not going to deliver the goods, at least don't pretend that your sharks-eat-college-kids horror movie is some serious work of art. Sadly, the thing that can save any low-rent horror movie, a sense of humor, is noticeably absent with Shark Night 3D. It goes all the way in the other direction, trying to churn serious drama out of ridiculous situations. Characters are prone to delivering long monologues that let us know how scared they are or of some past trauma. Sara is haunted by a drowning scare that put an irreconcilable rift between her and her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be one of the sinister rednecks. The stupid melodrama in this movie is played completely poker-faced serious. When one male character loudly bellows that his girlfriend, who died via shark, was the most important thing in his world, it's something of a head-scratcher. Before this lady fell victim to nefarious shark attack, we knew next to nothing about her beyond superficial descriptions, namely her race and her designation as "girlfriend." We don't even see anything of this so-called relationship, so when the feeding frenzy starts and the characters start getting picked off, the wails of drama are comically misplaced. When that character tries to go back into the water to attain vengeance against the animal that took his woman ("They took one of ours, now I'm gonna take one of theirs"), it feels absurd and hilarious. The movie hasn't even done a credible job to make us believe the significance of the character relationships.
The screenplay by Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg relies on stock roles almost to a degree of self-parody (the athlete, the smart wet blanket, the doofus, the virginal girl next door, the vampy girl - hey Cabin in the Woods, I got your lineup right here). You would think given the scenario of shark-infested waters, all you had to do was remain on land. The old chestnut about cell phone signals is here again, but I refuse to believe that Sara's family house does not have a landline phone. I thought maybe for one shining moment Shark Night 3D would move into an unexpected direction, and then it didn't. After our first shark victim struggles to pull through, our med student Nick takes charge. I thought it would have been great during this moment, when we fully expect Nick to be indispensible given his medical knowledge, that he gets eaten by a shark. Alas, my dreams of convention upheaval were not to be met. If you can't predict every twist and turn the movie makes, including the heroic sacrifice and the "twist" betrayal, then you haven't lived long enough to move on from the kiddie pool.
Shark Night 3D is a schlocky, tiresome, neutered exploitation film missing the elements that make exploitation films worth watching. After a while, it just becomes exasperating. This movie is 90 minutes of being lead around without a payoff. It wants to be a fun, campy movie, but then why does it take itself so seriously and lack the slightest sense of humor? It wants to be considered amongst exploitation horror movies, with nubile teens being stalked in their bikini bottoms below the murky depths, but then why does the movie pull back at every opportunity for sex and gore? Shark Night 3D is a movie that will appeal to no one. If you want thrills and chills, you'll be disappointed. If you want T&A, you'll be disappointed. If you want some good shark action, you'll be disappointed. If you want a workable story and characters worth rooting for, you'll be disappointed. If you love sharks, you'll be disappointed, which is a real disappointment. The only people who won't be disappointed will be the people who grew up on those late-night USA cut-for-TV soft core flicks. To those few people in their bubbles of ignorance, Shark Night 3D might be the best movie they've ever seen.
Nate's Grade: D
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