Child actor turned stuntman turned director David R. Ellis has made a few movies I really enjoyed, namely Final Destination 2 and Cellular. This falls more into the lines of his Snakes on a Plane misstep (albeit without any f-bombs, at least on screen). Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg’s script is so flat and uneventful even decent actors couldn’t save it. The CGI sharks are incredibly fake and non-menacing, which did allow for them to not cut away from some kills as the scenes are now ridiculously cartoony. Any attempt at real filmmaking is lost after the opening teaser (which wasn’t much of an attempt either) resulting in a film that looks as if it shot itself (in the foot).
This is the type of film that gives PG-13 horror a bad rap. This movie wants to be rated R so bad that it winds up being nothing more than a tease. Girls in bikinis (I’m fine with that) is as far as it goes, no nudity here. The problem’s start when they stick in some side-boob and changing scenes in which topless girls turn away from the camera. Who are they hiding from? It’s unnatural and draws unnecessary attention to the PG-13 rating and the awareness of a camera in the room. There’s no gore in the film either, just a lot of blood. Not that gore is required to make a good horror flick, but suspense is, and it’s completely missing here. With the recent uproar over The Expendables 2 rating change from hard R to PG-13, you might think this is a shining example of why that’s a bad idea. It’s not. It’s a shining example of why good filmmaking and storytelling will trump any rating any day. Even if Shark Night had been rated R it still would have stunk up the theater.
The lovely Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan do what they can with the limited roles they’re given, as does the rest of the cast. The meatiest part goes to Chris Carmack (The O.C., Into the Blue 2: The Reef) as a crazed local. Unfortunately the twist in the film takes the sharks out of the equation as the “bad guys”, instead making them unknowing participants in a Faces of Death filmmaking scheme.
It’s not that I dislike low-budget shark movies, I enjoyed the incredibly campy yet fun swim that was Swamp Shark. I can’t say the same for Shark Night. Skip this one and wait for the inevitable sequel, Shark the Morning After 3D.
Director: David R. Ellis
Stars: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack