When Nature Attacks: Shark Night

Before we even get into the movie itself, let’s talk about how bad the title is. It lacks any kind of originality and suggests a level of laziness that you will come to see throughout. The film is about a group of college students visiting the island home of a friend in a small Louisiana town near the Gulf of Mexico. It plays by slasher rules and the characters lack any real depth, with the exception of the lead. It’s a trashy little movie that has little respect for the brains of it’s audience and yet for some odd reason it’s become a guilty pleasure of mine over the years.

Joel David Moore, Sara Paxton, Alyssa Diaz, Dustin Milligan, Katharine McPhee, Sinqua Walls, and Chris Zylka in Shark Night 3D (2011)

The actors all look as though they came from the same casting director responsible for everything on the CW circa 2007. Not surprisingly many of them came from teen dramas. We even have a former American Idol contestant. First we have Sara, Sara Paxton (Return to Halloweentown, The Last House on the Left ‘09, The Innkeepers, Static, Murder in the First), the coed whose home everyone is heading to. She hasn’t been back to town in 3 years, not since an incident with her ex-boyfriend, Dennis, Chris Carmack (The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations), left him scarred. Then there’s Nick, Dustin Milligan (The Butterfly Effect 2, Final Destination 3, The Messengers, Demonic), the lovelorn med student that’s pining away for Sara. They are joined by tattoo loving, Beth, Katharine McPhee (Scorpion), videogame enthusiast Gordon, Joel David Moore (Hatchet, The Dead One, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Avatar, Chillerama, Gone, The Guest, Grace: The Possession), athletic Malik, Sinqua Walls (Teen Wolf ’11, Once Upon a Time), sassy Latina, Maya, Alyssa Diaz (The Nine Lives of Chloe King, The Vampire Diaries, The Last Ship, Zoo) and cocky Blake, Chris Zylka (My Super Psycho Sweet 16 1-3, Kaboom, The Secret Circle, The Amazing Spiderman, Piranha 3DD, Freaks of Nature, Welcome to Willits, The Leftovers).

Sara Paxton, Alyssa Diaz, and Dustin Milligan in Shark Night 3D (2011)

When they get to town they immediately run into Sara’s ex and his partner in the diving business he runs, Red, Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project, Hatchet, Bitter Feast, The Town That Dreaded Sundown ’14, Bates Motel, Scorpion, Unsane, Depraved). They also meet up with the local sheriff, played by Donal Logue (Disclosure, The Grave, Eye For an Eye, Blade, Zodiac, Silent Night, Sons of Anarchy, Vikings, Law & Order: SVU, Gotham , The Cloverfield Paradox).

It doesn’t take long before a day on the lake leads to one friend getting his arm bitten off. This leads to the gang trying to get him to the closest hospital, which in turn leads to someone else getting eaten and so on and so forth. The first half of the film, while not being wholly original, is still fairly well done. As I said earlier, it plays out like a typical slasher film. It’s the second half that makes giant and ridiculous jumps in logic. Things happen that don’t add up and the reason all of this is happening can literally be summed up in two words, Shark Week. I’m not kidding. Watch it and you’ll see.

Sara Paxton in Shark Night 3D (2011)

The direction, by David R. Ellis, the man responsible for the two weakest entries in the Final Destination franchise (2 &4), Cellular, Snakes on a Plane, and Asylum, lacks quite a bit to be desired. There are plenty of shots meant only to appeal to the audience that saw this because it was 3D in theaters. The effects aren’t really that impressive frankly. There are good things about the film. The acting, for the most part, is as good as it can get with such a poor script. The different types of sharks are a welcome change to the subgenre as well. This film is bad, really, really bad but if you have a soft spot for shark movies like me, you just may find it more entertaining than you should.

P.S. Even after having seen this film numerous times, one thing still sticks with me. How exactly does a man that’s lost an arm and spent the better part of the movie bleeding out, suddenly get the strength to wrestle a hammerhead shark? Anyone? Anyone?