Shark Night could’ve been an acceptable B-movie horror but instead the PG-13 rating neuters anything good. The acting isn’t up to snuff either but the screenplay hardly does anyone any favors. Focusing on the Blu-ray, the audio and video transfers are both solid but the disc fails, beyond the movie, in the features department. I suppose if you go for these types of cheap flicks then maybe it’s worth a rental but I’d say just skip it completely.
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Fox | PG13 – 90 min. – $29.99 | January 3, 2012
Directed by: David R. Ellis
Writer(s): Will Hayes & Jesse Studenberg (written by)
Cast: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katharine McPhee, Donal Logue, Joshua Leonard, Joel David Moore, Sinqua Walls
Theatrical Release Date: September 2, 2011
Features: Featurettes, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 1.5/5
Note: This review contains spoilers!
“Terror has surfaced.” I don’t think that’s terror floating on the water…
Shark Night is the latest attempt to recapture the B-movie vibe that permeated the 1970s and 1980s with bad writing, cheap thrills, lazy/poor story but plenty of T&A and blood. The problem with this film is they got the first three elements spot on, especially the lame ass story, but because it’s been watered down to a PG-13 rating, there’s only so much of the other two that one can show.
The “story” centers on a group of friends who go to an isolated vacation lake house in the boondocks of Louisiana. The home is owned by the family of Sara (SARA PAXTON; The Last House on the Left remake), a college girl who hasn’t been back to that region in three years. Along for the fun in the sun and the water are wannabe boyfriend Nick (DUSTIN MILLIGAN; Final Destination 3), best friends Beth (KATHARINE MCPHEE of “American Idol” fame) and Maya (ALYSSA DIAZ), all-pro athlete Malik (SINQUA WALLS) and goofball Gordon (JOEL DAVID MOORE; Avatar).
Upon arriving to town, Sara happens to run into ex-boyfriend Dennis (CHRIS CARMACK; The Butterfly Effect 3) and his creepy, tooth-decaying companion, Red (JOSHUA LEONARD). As you can probably guess, these two upstanding fellows will be back down the road… or I should say, down the river. They also run into the town’s zany sheriff, Greg Sabin (DONAL LOGUE).
What was supposed to be a fun time turns deadly when, while waterskiing, Malik gets attacked by something in the water which rips his arm off. They rush him back to shore but as usual with these kinds of movies, there’s no cell reception (established earlier in the film) and med student Nick states Malik has maybe two hours to reattach the arm and save his life. And lo and behold how long says Sara say it’ll take to get Malik to the nearest hospital? Yep, two hours, not that it matters.
In time for the rescue our favorite town hicks, Dennis and Red but by this point it’s too risky to move Malik so they offer to go back to town and call in a medevac. Desperate to get off the island, Beth offers to join them and not wanting her to be alone with the hicks, Gordon joins her. It’ll be a big mistake on both their parts as the movie’s twist is revealed: the sharks in the water were placed there on purpose as a part of a cruel reality television series.
I think director David R. Ellis (The Final Destination, Snakes on a Plane) wanted Shark Night to be B-movie material but unfortunately when you get a PG-13 rating it’s already watered down, then you add to the fact the story is so lame and the movie seems to take itself way too seriously that it takes itself out of the realm of a good bad movie. The short of it is, this is a bad movie, the kind you might see as a SyFy Original Movie than something with an actual budget and recognizable actors.
Speaking of SyFy, another problem is the visual and/or practical effects are a joke. Again, if the movie was aiming for B-movie status and not taking itself overly seriously then I could easily overlook such things but as it stands, it looks silly.
Acting wise, while none of these young actors do a great job, their roles are vastly underwritten and are merely clichés culled from other equally bad films. Sara Paxton probably comes out unscathed if only because she spends a good portion in a bathing suit while Joel David Moore gets the coveted “and” placement in the credit so we know his character is not long for that world. The only other recognizable person is former “American Idol” finalist, Katharine McPhee who has a few TV shows, a couple movies to her resume and I can’t quite fault her for diving into the horror genre even if the poor written screenplay hardly does her, or anyone, any favors.
That’s how Shark Night breaks down. The acting is bad but the screenplay doesn’t exactly help matters; the direction is uninspiring because for a horror-thriller, neither of them hit the mark; and the PG-13 rating skimps out any sort of entertainment value in exchange for CGI blood, lame kills and a predictable story. The movie is only 80-minutes minus credits but it feels a heck lot longer…
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.25/5
The Blu-ray comes housed in a standard case with a glossy slip cover.
Shark Attack! Kill Machine! (5:43; HD) is merely a replay of the kills shown in the movie.
Shark Night’s Survival Game (4:08; HD) – I suspect this featurette was made for SpikeTV as a way to advertise the movie. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Fake Sharks, Real Scares (5:24; HD) covers the creation of the variety of animatronic sharks depending on the scene they’re needed for. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Ellis’ Island (4:22; HD) is a behind-the-scenes featurette that basically has the cast and crew singing the praises of Director David R. Ellis as well as talking about the difficulty and toughness of filming the movie.
Theatrical Trailer (1:59; HD)
Previews – Haywire, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Martha Marcy May Marlene
The second disc contains the Digital Copy compatible with WMV and iTunes.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Shark Night chomps and bites, with CGI blood and PG-13 violence, its way onto Blu-ray with a clear looking 1080p high-def transfer. The film has some solid detail levels throughout and I noticed no signs of imperfections like artifacts or pixilation. Colors are also well rounded ranging from the blue water to brighter elements on the swimsuits. This isn’t a transfer that exactly pops out or anything but it’s more than adequate.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The disc offers up a strong 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. It comes to life mainly during the death scenes as well as a generic horror soundtrack. Dialogue levels are also really good with no interference or muffled voices due to a poor recording. The LFE channel is alright though it’s not going to shake the floor that much, yet it gives off enough depth providing for that home theater viewing experience.
OVERALL – 2.0/5
Overall, Shark Night could’ve been an acceptable B-movie horror but instead the PG-13 rating neuters anything good. The acting isn’t up to snuff either but the screenplay hardly does anyone any favors. Focusing on the Blu-ray, the audio and video transfers are both solid but the disc fails, beyond the movie, in the features department. I suppose if you go for these types of cheap flicks then maybe it’s worth a rental but I’d say just skip it completely.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.