Let me start off by saying that I’m scared to death of sharks. When I was a kid, I’d jump into the ocean and splash about to and fro without hesitation. But when adulthood comes a’callin’, so do the stupid fears, and now I can barely go into the water past my knees without thinking of the “gliding monsters” (as Deep Blue Sea somewhat romantically refers to them) that are undoubtedly lurking merely a few feet away and have me on their menu. They’ve been around since the dinosaurs, and the ocean is their turf — we really have absolutely no business being in there with them.
So, for the second weekend in a row (following last week’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark), I went to the movies feeling a bit nervous. Man, I didn’t want to watch scenes featuring boys and girls who just want to have fun and sex get eaten by goddamn sharks. And in a lake, no less! Am I going to be unable to go into any body of water that isn’t a kiddie pool at this point?
Shark Night 3D did nothing to help my fears; I’m still not going anywhere near the ocean anytime soon (though you can probably still get me into a lake… depending on where it is). But I also ended up smiling during the movie a lot more than I thought I would. I think I laughed out loud a couple of times, too.
And yeah, I was kind of rooting for the sharks. I think that might be the point.
Boy, this is a dumb movie. A bunch of college kids, led by the ever-blank-staring Sara (Sara Paxton), go to her family’s lake house in Louisiana for a weekend of going “Whooo!” a lot as they lounge around in bathing suits and drink and go waterskiing. They all have vaguely different personalities, but really, it doesn’t matter. This is the set-up, and even director David R. Ellis thinks it’s boring — he speeds up not one but two expositional sequences so we can get to the shark-bitin’ quicker.
And yeah, so then there are sharks in the lake. How in the hell did a bunch of frickin’ sharks (like, dozens of them, and of several different species, at that) get into a stupid lake in Louisana? Why, it’s those two crazy hayseeds, Dennis and Red (Chris Carmack and Joshua Leonard) — they’ve (somehow) gathered all the big fishies, strapped cameras to their noggins and are just waiting for the cash to roll in from all the money they’re going to make on the Internet (huh?) thanks to their underwater (and sometimes above-water) snuff films.
So there you have it, and what follows is a bunch of increasingly outrageous CGI kill scenes, something that director Ellis knows a thing or two about following Final Destination 2, The Final Destination and that embarrassing failure that was a lot more fun when it was just something to speculate about online, Snakes on a Plane. These sharks are incredible — they can swim at speeds up to what seems like 200 mph and can leap out of the water like they were looking to replace Shamu at Sea World or something. They’re not just after the attractive college chums (ha!) either; they want to eat the audience as well, ’cause why else would they sometimes just charge at the camera itself?
What makes the movie even crazier is that Ellis is trying to take all of this seriously. His stupid movie is called Shark Night 3D and yet he attempts to put hefty dramatic emphasis on the tearful confessions and psychologically scarring dark personal secrets. The screenwriters (Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg) seem to have set up these elements to be ridiculed, and yet Ellis doesn’t seem to know that sharks don’t give a damn about the sins of a family’s shady past. And, in something called Shark Night 3D, we don’t, either.
Anyway, it doesn’t really matter — it’s all over in about 80 minutes, and the movie has more than enough shark action to compensate for any silliness regarding character development and all that crap. Shark Night 3D (yes, the sun does eventually set on the proceedings and therefore justifies the title) is a highly enjoyable way to say goodbye to summer — and to the shark-infested beaches (and lakes!) it will soon be too cold to be at anyway.