Summer’s just around the corner. With the weather warming up people will be heading out to the beach soon enough. So naturally it’s time for another killer shark movie. Following on the heels of the so-so The Requin, Shark Bait quietly swam on to select VOD platforms last week. Nothing about this thriller stands out from its premise to the CGI shark. Most critics have passed on reviewing it. But maybe there’s some guilty pleasure B-movie fun here.
For five high school friends, it’s the last day of spring break on a Mexico vacation. Adulthood and all the responsibilities that come with it are just around the corner. Before they head home, they decide it’s time for one last wild fling and steal a pair of jetskis. But an accident leaves them stranded on the water and one member of the group seriously injured. As they drift out further into the ocean, a great white shark catches the scent of blood and begins to circle the helpless group.
Shark Bait Lacks The Fun and Suspense of the Movies It Imitates
Amongst is problems, Shark Bait feels like a carbon copy of other killer shark movies. Worst of all, the other movies to which it compares are much, much better movies. How many shark movies have we seen that strand characters adrift in the ocean? Since Jaws 2 did it in the 1970s, we’ve had Open Water, The Shallows, The Reef, and, most recently, The Requin. Writer Nick Saltrese’s creative choice to strand his protagonists on jetskis doesn’t add anything new. And what follows feels predictable and tired. Everything about Shark Bait feels like a connect-the-dots approach to filmmaking.
Worst of all, the other movies to which it compares are much, much better movies.
Nevertheless, director James Nunn somewhat salvages the movie enough to make it watchable. If killer shark movies are your thing, Shark Bait has a bit of gore and decent make-up effects. Not surprisingly, the CGI Great White shark isn’t very convincing, which limits the potential for suspense in the climax. Nunn could have found ways to elicit more tension without overexposing the movie’s limitations. Unfortunately, Shark Bait doesn’t do much other than what you’d expected from its premise. There’s a lack of inventiveness on display and an extended climax elicits more groans than anything else.
Shark Bait Circles on Some Dumb, Unlikeable Characters
Horror movie characters do stupid things. It’s kind of expected particularly from B-movies where sometimes you just need someone to make a bad decision to advance the story. Still the stupidity on display in Shark Bait takes the cake. First, the decision to steal jetskis in broad daylight makes the characters instantly unlikeable. Perhaps one could chalk this up to typical spring break antics. However, few viewers will be able to find much sympathy for anyone when they play chicken on the ocean. Couldn’t Saltrese have found any other way to strand the protagonists? It might be funny had Nunn chosen not play the whole thing with a straight face.
Still the stupidity on display in Shark Bait takes the cake.
In regards to the characters and performers themselves, like the rest of the movie, they’re mostly an interchangeable group of young faces. No one’s ‘bad’ in their roles but there isn’t a performance here that’s going to elevate the movie. At times it’s hard to recall just who is playing who. Of course, Saltrese’s screenplay doesn’t do anyone in the movie any favors. Some of the dialogue is cringeworthy. Other reveals designed to ratchet up the conflict between characters are formulaic. Anyone who’s watched enough movies shouldn’t have trouble picking out who dies. By the time Shark Bait reaches its climax, most viewers won’t feel all that invested in what happens.
Shark Bait Chums the Bottom of the Killer Shark Barrel
Derivative and unimaginative, Shark Bait at least isn’t painful to watch- it’s blandly inoffensive. In fact, if you can get past the first 15 minutes or so of the mind-numbingly stupid antics of its characters, Shark Bait settles into a predictable rhythm. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic. And Nunn fails to develop much suspense. It’s hard to be scared when you see the jumps coming well in advance. Maybe if Nunn had veered towards the intentionally silly there would be a fun movie here. As it stands, this shark thriller isn’t much more than a rainy day time-waster.