Summer is still months away, but for some reason a blend of killer shark and survival horror-thriller has arrived on VOD platforms. After a small, uncredited appearance in the latest Scream, The Requin marks Alicia Silverstone’s first starring role vehicle in 2022. A mix of Open Water, The Reef, and The Shallows, The Requin marks Vietnamese director Le-Van Kiet’s follow-up to the well-received Furie. Nothing about this killer shark movie looks like it’s going to deviate from expectations. But a good survival thriller usually makes for good viewing.
Following a tragic miscarriage, Jaelyn and her husband, Kyle, retreat to a beautiful overwater cabin at a resort in Vietnam. When a monsoon hits the coast, tidal waves drag their little villa deep into the ocean, miles from help. Early fears abut water and food as they drift quickly way to panic when Great White sharks begin circling them. Kyle’s leg is broken, their floating raft, is breaking apart, and help isn’t coming.
The Requin Drowns Itself With Formulaic Story and Overreliance on Digital Effects
Survival horror and thrillers don’t require much tinkering with a pretty straightforward formula. But The Requin is surprisingly basic in its approach. In fact, writer and director Le Van-Kiet’s story feels more like a template filled with familiar tropes. His couple-in-peril have suffered a tragedy that brings them to the inevitable site of their struggle for survival. Inevitably, the couple is cut off from any hope of rescue as progressive challenges crop up increasing their desperation. Yes, we’ll get initial conflict – old wounds are opened – before there’s a reconciliation. But it’s a horror movie and/or thriller, so you shouldn’t expect a completely happy ending. At least not for all characters. There’s nothing wrong with the story, it just can’t escape that ‘been there, done that’ feeling.
But jus about everything in The Requin – with the exception of the actors themselves – looks fake.
Another problem with The Requin is its overuse of digital effect. Not everyone can innovate like Steven Spielberg. And on-location shoots are undoubtedly challenging. At the very least, one would expect most of the up-close shark attack scenes to be shot digitally. But just about everything in The Requin – with the exception of the actors themselves – looks fake. Unfortunately, the digital effects are poor quality throughout the movie. Some shots barely outperform what you’d find in a Sharknado movie. That works for Sharknado – they’re supposed to be silly. But The Requin intends to be serious. On the plus side, Van-Kiet paces the action and keeps the movie feeling trim. And the movie’s finale manages to drum up a bit of suspense.
The Requin Benefits From Strong, Natural Performances
What saves The Requin from being a completely forgettable effort are the performances. In particular, Alicia Silverstone (The Crush) puts The Requin on her shoulders and carries it across its own familiarity. Silverstone gives Jaelyn range and depth that extend beyond the movie’s screenplay. Most importantly, she ensures her characters feels real and relatable even amidst a sea of poorly rendered CGI effects. And if some of the story’s beats feel formulaic, it’s still nice to see a movie shine a spotlight on women’s issues even if they’re not the movie’s sole focus.
… Alicia Silverstone puts The Requin on her shoulders and carries it across its own familiarity.
Though he’s likely to be less familiar to audiences, James Tupper plays very well off Silverstone. Like Silverstone’s turn as ‘Jaelyn’, Tupper gives an earnest performances that adds a much needed depth to the movie. In spite of The Requin’s formulaic approach to its survival horror story, Van-Kiet’s screenplay and, more specifically, dialogue feels natural. One of the strengths of the movie that compels you to keep watching is just how much it humanizes its couple.
The Requin Doesn’t Re-Invent The Wheel, But Clears A Low Hurdle
If you’ve seen any number of killer shark movies, don’t go into The Requin expecting much different. Kiet turns in a surprisingly by-the-numbers effort that’s mildly satisfying. In addition to a familiar plot structure, poor digital effects frequently take you out of this thriller. But a decent finale, trim runtime, and Alicia SIlverstone’s performance compensate just enough. No one’s likely to put The Requin in a ‘Best of’ killer shark movie list, but it’s good enough to pass away some time.