If nothing else, the new film Shark Night 3D has an appropriate title. The movie takes place over the course of one night, there are a few sharks, and it’s all presented in 3D. If only the rest of the film worked as well.
Basically, the film is about this college student named Sara (played by Sara Paxton) who invites all of her college friends to Louisiana for the weekend and basically gets them all killed. Among Sara’s friends are geeky-but-cute Nick (Dustin Milligan), geeky-but-not-so-cute Gordon (Joel David Moore, who was also in Avatar), token black guy Malik (Sinqua Walls), Malik’s girlfriend Maya (Alyssa Diaz), Beth (American Idol runner-up Katherine McPhee) who we know is doomed because she has both tattoos and big boobs, and Blake (Chris Zylka), who possesses no personality but he does have a really nice ass. Seriously. Unfortunately, Sara forgets to tell them that her psycho ex-boyfriend Dennis (Chris Carmack) is waiting for her, along with his redneck buddy Red (Josh Leonard).
There’s also a lot of sharks swimming around this lake and, since this is a 3D movie, these sharks are capable of jumping out of the water like dolphins and snatching people out of boats and off of docks. Seriously, these are some talented sharks. Malik gets his arm bitten off and it’s pretty much all downhill from there. Malik is talented too because, even after he gets his arm bitten off, he’s still capable of grabbing a harpoon and standing out in the middle of the lake, bleeding as he taunts the sharks. Now, as ludicrous as this sounds, it’s probably the film’s best moment. It’s certainly one of the only truly grindhouse moments in this film. At the very least, it suggests a self-awareness that is lacking from the rest of the film.
Shark Night 3D sucks. There, I said it. I feel a little bad about saying that because, obviously, you can’t judge Shark Night 3D by the same standard that you would judge a film like 8 1/2 or The Rules of the Game. As I watched the end credits roll, I wondered if maybe I was being too hard on this film. After all, a lot of the dialogue was so bad that the intention behind it had to have been satiric? Right? Was I just being unfair? So, mentally, I compared Shark Night 3D to last year’s Piranha 3D and I quickly realized that I wasn’t being unfair. Shark Night 3D sucks.
The cast is uniformly bland, the plot is silly without ever being enjoyable, and — worst of all — the sharks are boring. Remember how the killer fish in Piranha 3D managed to be both ludicrous and scary? Remember how they each seemed to have their own little diabolic personality? It made you root for the piranhas and, as a result, you didn’t mind the fact that they were eating cardboard characters. However, the sharks in Shark Night just look like CGI sharks. Remember how the piranhas were literally everywhere in Piranha 3D? In Shark Night, the sharks just pop up randomly whenever the film’s engine starts to run out of gas.
I think the ultimate verdict I can pass on Shark Night is this: I am usually a total aquaphobe. Seriously, I can’t swim. I don’t do boats. I don’t do water parks. When my family went to Hawaii, I spent a lot of time walking on the beach in my bikini but you better believe I ran like the wind whenever I saw the tide coming for me. Over Labor Day weekend, I spent a while wading in the shallow end of my uncle’s pool and my family was literally amazed that I didn’t freak out. So was I, for that matter. (Yay me!)
And yet, as I watched Shark Night — which was all about people going into the water and dying terrible deaths — not once did I cover my eyes.