Shark Night 3D Blu-ray Review
Directed by David R. Ellis
Written by Will Hayes & Jesse Studenberg
2011, Region B (PAL), 91 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 23rd January 2012
Sara Paxton as Sara Palski
Dustin Milligan as Nick
Chris Carmack as Dennis Crim
Katharine McPhee as Beth
Joel David Moore as Gordon
Donal Logue as Sheriff Greg Sabin
Seven college kids partying at a Louisiana lake house find themselves menaced by sharks and Hillbillies over the course of one unfortunate evening. Gore and nudity should ensue, except in Shark Night it doesn't. It's like Piranha 3D without any of what made Piranha 3D good.
It's a film that promises all of the sex, nudity and ultraviolence of Alexandre Aja's Piranha but delivers only the 3D. It seems to go out of its way to disappoint at every avenue, leaving its viewers feeling as frustrated as its horny teenage characters. There are a number of shots which see characters disrobing at strange angles, obscuring any nip-slips or penile protrusion. Likewise, any gore or dismemberment is sure to happen off screen or beneath a mass of dark churning water. It overuses the old “surprise shark jumping out of the water” gag to an extent where it starts to feel like a SyFy special. Shark Night 3D is a tease of the most shameless kind. Even its choice of director – David R. Ellis of the wonderful Final Destination 2 fame – is an unfulfilled promise.
The only promise the movie does deliver on is in its title. There are indeed sharks and they do appear at night. There are many sharks, from Hammerheads (my personal favourite) to Tiger sharks. There are even faux-Piranhas in the form of the film's “cookie cutter” sharks. Cookie cutter sharks for a cookie cutter creature-feature. The sharks should be a highlight, but they look ridiculous. Apparently animatronics were used throughout, although they all look exactly like Bruce from Finding Nemo when in motion.
When not being menaced by stupid sharks, the kids are menaced by a pair of Hillbillies who look exactly like Tucker and Dale. You can tell they're evil straight away, because one of them has a scar and the other sharpens his teeth to look like a great white shark's. Their role in the film is utterly predictable; it’s not really a mystery as to who put sharks in a lake if there are only three other characters in the film.
There are moments of interest, but only of the ironic variety. A scene in which a character fights a hammerhead shark with nothing but a spear and his fists made me physically laugh out loud. Shark Night is the sort of movie in which the ethnic couple dies first. The best character in the film is Donal Logue's heavy metal loving Sheriff and Joel David Moore is wasted as best friend Gordon. It's telling that the main character is dull, virginal Nick. Like Nick, it acts demure and chaste without ever really knowing why. It doesn't have the class of Jaws, the thrills of Deep Blue Sea or the sleaze of Piranha. It feels like an Asylum/SyFy rip-off writ large. Were it not for the success of certain fun 3D movies, it would have no reason to exist.
Like its characters, Shark Night is pretty but vacuous. It's watchable but ridiculous, enjoyable for a handful of good scenes and some unintentional comedy. If nothing else, it has a man fighting a hammerhead shark with a spear.
Video and Audio:
The 2D version looks beautiful, save for the terrible blend of animatronics and CGI. If you like buff, nubile teenage bodies, they look great in HD. Just don't expect them to take off their clothes.
The 'survival guide' amounts to little more than a highlight reel interspersed with some facts about sharks. Watch it instead of the movie. The featurette 'Fake Sharks Real Scares' is only half right. There's also a behind-the-scenes documentary which will interest no-one who actually saw the movie.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*
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