PG-13, 1 hr. 25 min. Directed By: David R. Ellis. Release Date: Sep 2, 2011. DVD Release Date: Jan 3, 2012.
I have this nearly psychotic fear of sharks. I'm a great swimmer, but no where is a human less in his or her element than in the water, where everything's faster than we are, and most of the time we can't see danger coming. This movie plays on my every fear, and combines that with some really good (at least internet-based) scientific fact. They didn't make the sharks do things they wouldn't normally do, although I do believe that great whites only breach in the hunting process, not for no apparent reason. They didn't have the sharks be sentient, or have frigging laser beams attached to their frigging heads, or anythign like that. Someone involved in the making of this movie knew that sharks are scary enough by themselves. They don't need adornment.
I have to be a little impressed when horror writers do research. In this case, I was able to confirm (as much as you can confirm anything) everything this movie tells us about the specific species of shark on Wikipedia. I’m the occasional viewer of Shark Week (the best "horror" available on film, in my mind), and there were at least one type of shark I’d never heard of, and had to do quite a bit of digging about before I realized what they had said more or less matched what I was seeing from the “scientific community” on the internet. The one thing I didn’t have to research was what they tell us about bull sharks, since I’ve been to the estuary at the St. Lucia river and I know firsthand that you can find the damned things in fresh and salt water, and that the buggers manage to get just about everywhere.
I did a little more research on salt lakes, because to my knowledge, there just aren’t all that many: Salt Lake in Utah, the Salton Sea in California, and the Dead Sea between Jordan and Israel. As it turns out, they're fairly common; they exist all over the world in places where certain geographic conditions are met, so that part of my complaint about the movie got silenced as well.
I’ve said that good science makes for good science fiction, I think back when I watched Daybreakers. Good science does not make for good horror, especially if that’s the only thing you’ve got going for you. And really, that was the only thing Shark Night had going for it, no matter how many Ds are involved.
Really, Shark Night has all the problems you expect of horror: weak story, bad acting, and effects that are questionable at best. Without going too deep into spoilers, I can’t go into specifics, but the mechanics that make this story work are the ones that make me question the plausibility. I’m also wondering how the perpetrator of these bloody antics expected to get away with it. Once you hear the motive, you’ll probably ask that question, too. It also could have been much scarier, especially conxidering how absolutely terrified I am of sharks.
It’s a sad, sad day when my favorite character is the lead female character’s yellow lab. It broke my heart when the puppy goes into the water (I won't tell you how his swim turns out), and it was the only time in this movie I wasn't rooting for the sharks. You could watch this movie, but it would be a lot better if you just dodged that particular bullet. Trust me.