out of Five
Running time: 91
Enjoyably trashy Jaws/Piranha rip-off, enlivened by likeable performances and some impressive 3D effects, but the plot is laugh-out-loud ridiculous and there's an oddly prudish approach to gore and nudity.
What's it all about?
Directed by David R. Ellis (Snakes on a Plane), Shark Night 3D stars Sara Paxton (Aquamarine) as Sara, a university student who brings six of her college friends (including Dustin Milligan, Katharine McPhee and Joel David Moore) home for a vacation weekend at her lakeside house in Louisiana. However, the holiday fun quickly comes to an end when one of her friends (Sinqua Walls as Malik) has his arm bitten off by a shark and another friend is knocked into the water and eaten as they're racing Malik to hospital.
With no mobile reception, the remaining teens use flare guns to try to attract the attention of the local Sheriff (Donal Logue) on the opposite shore, but Sara's disfigured ex-boyfriend Dennis (Chris Carmack) and his redneck buddy Red (Joshua Leonard) show up instead and they seem to have an agenda of their own. Meanwhile, the teens suddenly discover that there's more than one breed of shark in the saltwater lake.
Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan make appealing leads and there's strong support from Katharine McPhee, Sinqua Walls and Joel David Moore, who nabs all the best lines. Similarly, Carmack and Leonard are suitably creepy (though Carmack's supposedly plot-driving “disfigurement” is barely more than a scratch), while Logue is good value as the Sheriff.
The shark attack scenes are well handled and provide the requisite shocks, heightened by some impressively deployed 3D effects. That said, Ellis is a little too reliant on the 'shark jumps out of the water' shot, which works brilliantly the first time but is less successful later on.
The main problem with the film is that the plot contains a ridiculous twist that's actually laugh-out-loud stupid; it also adds an extra layer of nastiness, as if someone decided that what the shark bait genre really needed was a twist of torture porn. That said, the script's obviously grisly intentions are completely neutered in the name of a lower certificate and the film completely skimps on the genre's three staples of gore, nudity and blood as a result.
Despite the lack of gore, Shark Night is still an enjoyable slice of Friday night trash thanks to its likeable cast and some impressive shark effects. Worth seeing and, if you do see it, stick around for a post-credits rap video performed – in character – by the cast.