SHARK NIGHT 3D, 2011
Stars: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katharine McPhee, Alyssa Diaz, Chris Zylka, Joel David Moore, Sinqua Walls
A weekend at a lake house in the Louisiana Gulf turns into a nightmare for seven vacationers as they are subjected to shark attacks.
Never have so many died for so little. Shark Night 3-D, the latest from the David R. Ellis factory that produced gems such as Final Destination 2 and Snakes On A Plane, tells the story of a group of interchangeable college students who visit their friend's holiday home for the weekend.
The house is on an island, the water's infested with sharks, and the characters have the collective willpower, charm and intelligence of a cinderblock. It's rarely you get to truly feel a genre change pass you by, but as cookie-cutter nitwits like football player Malik (Sinqua Walls), tattooed Beth (Katherine McPhee) and latina Maya (Alyssa Diaz) insist on getting into the lake you think: haven't we gotten past this?
Haven't we gotten past people in horror movies not even acting like recognisable mammals when faced with imminent danger? Of course, it was always going to be a challenge to get people back in the water, but Jaws did it through conflict and doubt rather than awkward plot conventions - and at times it feels like Shark Night 3D is about a group of disenfranchised young people who've chosen to take part in the world's bloodiest suicide pact. It isn't a complete waste of time, and things do take a ridiculous if mildly promising turn half-way in once Blonde Girl's (Sara Paxton, whose character I refuse to name) old boyfriend shows up.
But even this twist (let's just say it involves MORE SHARKS) is neutered by the film's PG-13 rating, shoving on its stabilisers every time you think you might get a mindless chomp, boob or regurgitated thigh bone. There is an interesting "shark meets college kids" film out there (possibly involving a normally studious hammerhead pledging Delta Phi) but this isn't it, mainly because between the screenwriter and the director they forgot to actually have any fun.
Instead it's just a factory floor of young people, running the gamut from Attractive Latina to Attractive Nerd, who are dispatched underwater with minimal fuss. This all could have been pleasantly distracting if Ellis had remembered what made his previous films more fun - strange characters getting killed in interesting situations by unusual attackers.
But it seems that even in today's horror landscape of people being forced to ingest their own eyeballs while listening to Phil Collins, you can still manage to pump out some intensely boring stuff. One to be forgotten.
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