I go to the movies a lot, and missing the trailers is a nigh-unforgiveable sin to me. As such, I’ve seen pretty much every trailer for every major release for the next year or so. Somehow, Shark Night snuck by me. My dear friend Pat assures me we saw trailers, but I must have blocked them out. I caught maybe ten seconds of a television spot. I stayed away from Wikipedia. Shark Night was the first (theatrical) movie, at least since Flixist was born, that I went into blind. How did it turn out? Better, and worse, than I could’ve possibly hoped for. Hit the jump to find out whether or not it delivers on sharks and nights, and mind the spoilers, I probably won’t be able to help myself.
Spoiler alert: There was totally sharks at night in this film, that much I can say with a straight face. I’d say Shark Night is a movie that won’t insult your intelligence, but I’d be lying. It is a dumb, dumb movie. However, I think they knew it was dumb, or realized half-way through and decided, “Whatever.” Everything about this movie boggled my mind and I loved it and hated it, all at the same time.
The plot behind Shark Night is one you’d see at any given time on the Sci-Fi SyFy Channel. Some college kids go to a girl’s old hometown to get wrecked by the lake. Unfortunately for them, they get the wrong kind of wrecked, and soon the lake is full of human-flavored chum. After one of them loses an arm, a comedy of errors takes of leading to a ridiculous reveal and bloody climax.
The characters are essentially fodder for the shark(s) to eat, so if they weren’t developed at all, I wouldn’t have been insulted. But the half-assed attempts to develop the characters frustrated me. Dustin Milligan (Gossip Girl, 90210) plays our protagonist, Nick. He likes, or maybe just wants to bone, Sara (Sara Paxton, Last House on the Left), the small town girl with a shady past who hasn’t been home for three years. Joel David Moore (of Avatar and Dodgeball fame) plays the gamer/lothario. Sinqua Walls plays the all-star football player from a poor background who wants to propose to his girlfriend (Alyssa Diaz), who is, uh, Hispanic. No, really, they don’t establish her beyond being the football player’s girlfriend. Rounding out the victims are the slutty ‘tattooed’ girl (I saw maybe a tramp stamp) played by American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee and the spray-tanned slab of meat played by Chris Zylka, who will be playing Flash Thompson in the new Spider-Man movie. Donal Logue pops up as the sheriff and Chris Carmack (from the awesome third installment of The Butterfly Effect). Nobody is well-developed except for Paxton and Carmack, which is great, except for the fact that all we know about the protagonist is he has to study. It’s unclear if the glasses he wears in the beginning are prescription or not, because after Sinqua removes them, we never see them again. But in the end, does it matter? Not really, because 90% of these people will end up in the stomachs of sharks increasingly ludicrous ways.
The dialogue is what you can expect from a film about sharks in a salt-water lake. After the one-armed football player finds out his girlfriend is shark food, he gets a spear (what?) and decides to get the shark. Here’s an example of dialogue from that scene: “How are you going to find the shark?” “I won’t. He’s gonna find me.” He also mentions in a rather overdramatic fashion that his girlfriend was the only part of him he couldn’t do without, at which point I yelled “BESIDES MY ARM.” Everybody laughed but it was only afterwards that I realized the joke didn’t really work. That is a tribute to how mind-numbing the film was. Oh, and then he stabs a hammerhead shark to death.
The sharks themselves were varied, to say the least. I can’t really vouch for their CGI because I was too busy laughing every time they’d appear on screen. I couldn’t really explain it, except for the fact that most times they showed up, someone was going to meet a hilarious end, be it shark or man.
The 3D was decent, but I really didn’t leave the theater thinking, “Man, that was a movie that needed to be in 3D.” However, it’s a ridiculous lakeside murderfest with sharks, so it absolutely needed to be in 3D. Just don’t go expecting Piranha 3D levels of quality.
By the time the credits rolled, I’d seen people die in a bunch of awesome ways. I’ve decided not to give them away, because they must be seen to be believed. My friends and I always sit through the credits just in case, and this film delivered in spades. It was only after the credits that I began to think maybe, just maybe, the people involved in this project were self-aware. In fact, the post-credits scene justified the entire price of the ticket. I honestly haven’t laughed that hard, or been that close to a complete mental breakdown, in years.
Is Shark Night worth your time? Yes. It really is one of those movies that is so bad its good. Ludicrous shark acrobatics, a bat-shit crazy explanation for how 40+ kinds of sharks ended up in the lake, and some of the most satisfying, albeit PG-13, bloodbaths I’ve seen this year. Don’t go if you aren’t looking to laugh, groan, or have a religious experience (post-credits at least). Bottom line: go see this movie so they can make a sequel that will be two times the so-bad-it’s-good. I’ve never had a better time at a worse movie. Not knowing what to expect made it even better.