Friday, September 2, 2011

Shark Night 3D

The end of summer is the perfect time for a stupid, gore laden horror film that involves animals attacking humans just for the fun of it. Five years ago we had Snakes on a Plane, last year there was Piranha 3D, and now the highly anticipated "Jaws" rip-off "Shark Night" in 3D. It's Labor day weekend, let the mayhem begin. This movie was directed by the same guy that did "Snakes" and you can tell by the performances and the cheesy set ups and payoffs. David Ellis may not be an Auteur, but he can tell a solid scary story with broad enough appeal to bring in the audience for this kind of movie and satisfy them. I think he also did the first "Final Destination", so you know he can make a gruesome set up work.

I doubt that this movie will do a great deal of business, it is Labor Day weekend and one of the slowest dates of the year in the film business. This kind of silly horror is an acquired taste and there may be limited appeal to a mass audience. It is my oldest daughter's birthday however and she and her sister have learned well in my shadow. They enjoy the heck out of this kind of stuff. Allison is a little more discriminating than Amanda on these things. Amanda will watch all the cheap SyFy made for cable movies with me, in fact, she is now usually the instigator, but Allison likes the cinematic extravagance of a visceral disembowelment. Last year, at the Midnight Showing of "Piranha 3D" we were the only three people in the theater and we still laughed and hooted like you could not believe.

There was a slight hesitation on my part in queuing up for this movie. It is rated PG-13, which means that the gore level will be very low, the cursing will not exceed one or two F-Bombs, and there will not be any nudity, (or it will be racy TV from the side nudity). All of that was required last year because that is all there was in the killer fish movie. This movie does try to tell a little bit more of a story. It is a stupid story, but it does have one. The plot helps create a lot of the suspense because without all the bells and whistles of an "R" rated horror film, you need something to hold stuff together. The performers here are not thespians, most of them come off as pretty people hired for the shoot. They are however ten times more effective than any performer in one of those SyFy movies, so this is at least tolerable. I will also add, that at the very end of the credits, there is a stinger section that made me appreciate the actors a helluva lot more. If you do manage to see this, make sure to stay for the extra at the end. It does not add to the movie plot, but it does add to the movie experience.

The characters are cardboard but each one at least has a function in the story. The two leads are not bad, they just have little to do beyond reacting to the CGI sharks and assorted other bad guys. I was a little let down by the lack of additional gore when some of the truly evil characters get their comeuppance. We have been given good reason to want to see some of these characters die, and their deaths while appropriate, needed to be done with more flair and panache than the deaths of characters with which we are supposed to sympathize. It is limited by the rating that the movie makers were seeking. I understand but I yearned for more dismemberment. The shots of the sharks are fine, they never look as frightening to me as "Bruce" did in Jaws, but they do sometimes look more real.

The makers of this movie are having a laugh. They know that the plot is not serious and they treat some of the scenes with the appropriate tone. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that when a shark attack victim, who has lost too much blood to transport on a boat, walks out into the water with a spear in his one hand and swears to kill the shark that has wronged him, well, it is a moment of absurdity to savior. To me, this is exactly the kind of movie that should be in 3-D, viscera is splashed in the screen and explosions launch pieces of wreckage at the audience. We get a corny experience that draws attention to how corny it is. No one is pretending that the 3-D here is anything other than a gimmick, and they use like a gimmick should be used.  I enjoyed this thoroughly despite the limitations of the rating. It is exactly what you want, if you are attracted to this film at all. It is a sign of mental health if you avoid it, but if your sense of humor is twisted like ours is, you will be waiting for the sequel.

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