Right now, we’re in the middle of SyFy’s Sharknado week. On Sunday night, SyFy will premiering what they say is going to be The Last Sharknado. In the days leading up to that moment, they’ve been reshowing all of their classic shark films and premiering a new shark film each night!
Thursday night’s premiere was Nightmare Shark!
Nightmare Shark kind of swam out of nowhere on Thursday and it ended up impressing the Hell out of not only me but almost everyone that I was watching it with. There’s a neat little twist to Nightmare Shark, one that will be appreciated and loved by anyone who watches SyFy shark films. In fact, it’s such a wonderful twist that I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen the film yet. At the same time, I really can’t review the movie without revealing the details of the twist.
So, consider this to be your SPOILER WARNING! If you haven’t seen Nightmare Shark, just take my word for it that it’s a scary and effective SyFy shark film and stop reading. Because what follows is going to spoil a huge part of the film for you. Here, I’ll give you a few minutes to navigate away from the page before I continue.
Here’s a picture of a cute kitty that the rest of us can look at while you leave:
Okay, let’s continue.
Shared cinematic universes are all the rage right now. In fact, SyFy already has one of its own. Ian Ziering making a cameo appearance in Lavalantula established that both that film and its sequel took place in the same chaotic universe as Sharknado. Well, Nightmare Shark established a second cinematic universe.
The film itself deals with a group of shark attack survivors who, having been plagued by shark-related nightmares, agree to take part in an experimental drug trial. What they don’t suspect is that the outwardly benevolent Dr. Novak (Tony Amendola) actually worships a Hawaiian shark god and his plan is to use them and their nightmares as a way to bring the shark out of their dreams and into the real world. Among the survivors are Jolene (Lulu Jovovich) and Rob (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Gina (Rachele Brooke Smith) and Kaplan (Bobby Campo). Fans of SyFy shark movies will immediately recognize them as the protagonists of, respectively, Trailer Park Shark and Atomic Shark.
So, there you go. All three of these films take place in the same universe and personally, I would toss Ghost Shark in there as well. (The Hawaiian shark god definitely seemed to have a bit in common with the Ghost Shark.) Just as there’s a Sharknado Cinematic Universe, there’s also a Griff Furst Cinematic Shark Universe.
That was a wonderful Easter egg for all of us longtime fans of SyFy shark week. Since, with the Sharknado franchise wrapping up, this could be the final shark week, Nightmare Shark also gave us a final chance to spend some time with some of our favorite shark movie protagonists. Unfortunately, not all of them survive their nightmares.
Compared to the whimsical tone that’s present in most SyFy shark movies, Nightmare Shark was a seriously dark film. Make no mistake about it, this was definitely a horror film. In fact, it featured some of the most effective jump scenes that I’ve seen in a SyFy film. The nightmares were all nicely realized and properly surreal. The film did a good job of keeping viewers off-balance. You were never quite sure who was awake or asleep and you spent most of the film looking for little clues at to whether we were seeing the real world or the dream world. Though the film’s influences were clear — A Nightmare on Elm Street was a big one — Nightmare Shark still did a great job of establishing its own wonderfully twisted identity. Among the cast, the clear stand-out was Tony Amendola, who was enjoyably sinister as Dr. Novak.
Nightmare Shark was an effective horror film, one that proved that there’s still new twists and scares to found in shark week.