Shark Night 3D arrives almost a year after Piranha 3D reigned supreme on DVD/Blu-ray. Unfortunately, where Piranha 3D relished in its ridiculousness, Shark Night 3D tries to escape that by “elevating” itself to something more. Where it had the potential to be another gory-filled B-movie homage (the fact it was originally called Untitled Shark Thriller 3D was promise enough), it loses it almost instantaneously by failing to capitalise on its lucrative conceit.
The plot itself couldn’t be simpler: When seven college friends are invited by their friend Sara (Sara Paxton) to her parents’ idyllic lake house, they relish the chance for a weekend filled with sun, sea and sex. However, when the friends discover the water is shark-infested, their serene weekend soon turns into an all-out nightmare.
What follows is an idiot’s guide to the horror-thriller genre. Packed full of as many clichés and stereotypes as physically possible, Shark Night 3D contains one of the most improbable narratives in recent memory. It’s that slapdash that whenever director David R. Ellis and screenwriters Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg make even the slightest attempt to inject some life and substance into the goings-on, whether it be through their characters or the shark attacks themselves, they immediately stumble.
Set up for an immediate loss by the writers’ ineptitude, there’s seldom a decent performance on offer. Featuring an array of ex-TV actors, and one American Idol contestant (yes, they stooped that low), each is as inconsequential as the last. The aforementioned Paxton is, at a push, the only actor who is partially able to escape the constraints of her typecasting and offers up some semblance of usefulness, however brief and buried under it may be.
Unlike the predictable and out-of-date CGI effects, which make the sharks look nothing like actual sharks, Gary Gapo’s cinematography is a treat. His skill is able to flourish through a melange of beautiful landscape shots, suitably bathing the idyllic location in natural lights, using an array of camera angles and techniques to deliver some truly picturesque shots. Perhaps, in a way, this is the reason that when the real danger comes, it’s relatively unfrightening. That, or the fact that most of gruesome acts are committed offscreen, away from our eager eyes. It’s a certainty that you’ll spend the whole of the film praying for Jaws’ mechanical shark to make an appearance.
However, no matter how hastily pieced together the film feels, you can’t help but admire Ellis’ tenacity, especially after the relatively poor reception Snakes on a Plane received. He may not be a particularly accomplished director, but the fact he puts his heart and soul into a project, whether or not it’s any good, is something that shines particularly brightly in Shark Night 3D. It’s just a shame it’s not any good.
- 3D or 2D Feature Presentation (Blu-ray)
- Shark Night’s Survival Guide
- Fake Sharks Real Scares
- Elli’s Island