As a fan of horror films featuring snakes, alligators, sharks or other animal species, I thought I’d spend my night watching a recent one, Shark Night, released in 2011. Now, I don’t have a 3D television, so I watched it in old school 2D, but lucky for me, horror films shot in 3D make no secret of where they intended for it to be 3D, so it was easy to imagine. Shark Night features a cast of C-list actors playing students at Tulane University who get away for a weekend to a friend’s lake house. They soon discover the lake waters are infested with not one, but several, species of sharks and terror and mayhem ensue.
I truly wanted to like this film; I adore sharks and enjoy horror films featuring them. The bottom line, though, is this film was terrible. And not in an, “Oh my god, that horror movie was so bad it was good” kind of way. It was simply bad. There were so many things I hated about this film and so little I liked, so I’m not quite sure where to start. In a nutshell, the film did nothing right. There were some good pieces, and with different direction, writing and acting, I truly believe the film could have gone a different way. But, that just wasn’t the reality. With a cast of actors some may remember from random television roles, the characters left a lot to be desired. The film tried way too hard to provide the audience with a diverse cast, featuring an athlete, a nerd, a gamer, the popular girl, the punk rock girl, the dumb skateboarder and a Hispanic girl. In what universe would these people actually hang out in real life? (Minus a camp in the 80s) The film provides zero character development, and while I realize horror films aren’t exactly known for their strong characters, c’mon. Give the audience something, anything. Without character development, the viewer doesn’t care about the character. Therefore, when one of them gets their arm ripped off by a shark, we don’t care.
There aren’t enough words in the world to discuss the awful graphics in this film. On principal, I can’t stand horror films that use 3D to save them. Your film better already be amazing when you toss in some 3D shots because it really grinds my gears when a terrible horror film shoots in 3D in hopes it will make it less terrible. This entire film could have been in 3D and it wouldn’t have saved it. The shark graphics were horrific, which certainly lessened the impact of the scare. While we’re at it, let’s talk about the sharks and what makes a shark movie scary. In order for a shark film to be frightening, you need some element of realism. Jaws was in an ocean and there was only one and he devoured objects of reasonable size and by reasonable means. Say what you will about the size of Jaws and how no shark is that large, blah blah blah, but that film made the audience feel as though it could totally happen to them. This film did not. My mind is racing from the fact that there were several shark species in a lake to the fact that a shark swam toward a jet ski, launched itself out of the water, opened wide and swallowed the jet skier all in one fluid motion to the fact that the sharks chose not to eat a dog thrown in the water and that dog was then able to tread water for hours before emerging at the end of the film. I’m really good at suspending my disbelief in horror films, for instance, I totally accept and believe that Michael Myers is still alive after being killed multiple times. But this film crossed the line. My loyalty to sharks and horror films only goes so far.
It’s truly a shame that this film sucked so much. I wish the writers took the few good pieces, such as the storyline with the sharks and the cameras, and focused more on that and less on cheap, exaggerated shark shots. While only a couple of sharks died in the film, many of them were dying in horror with every passing second of this film. All in all, the film failed in its one goal. I will go back in the water. I mean, perhaps I can just tread water like the dog to save myself.
If you liked Shark Night, you might also like Jaws, Jaws 3 and Shark Week.