Shark Night 3D

God, sharks can be such DICKS.
★★
☆☆☆☆
Released: 
2011
Director: 
David R. Ellis
Starring: 
Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Donal Logue
The Setup: 
Bunch of teens vacation on a lake that somehow has sharks in it.
Discussion: 

Those bastards in Hollywood, they know that if they make a movie that is nonstop shark attacks and make it in 3D, that I will be helpless to resist. And they were right! And while I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, you should not interpret that as saying that it is in any way GOOD. In fact, the meager pleasure it offered was from snickering about how incredibly dumb it is, and how sleazy it is. As contemporary exploitation films go, this makes Columbiana look like Doctor Zhivago.

So we go right into our credits, and discover that "3D" is actually part of the title, meaning this is not released in standard 2D, which might surprise you as it goes on and you realize that they're not doing much of anything with the 3D. Now as surely you know the International Treaty on Shark Attack Movies (ITSAM) dictated that ALL movies featuring shark attacks since the historic Jaws Accord of 1977 MUST begin with a woman in a bikini being eaten. The opening scene here virtually IS the opening scene of Jaws, complete with boyfriend who is oblivious on shore, but particularly with seeing the woman pulled five feet this way then five feet that way through the water. The difference is we're on a lake, and have had much more (PG-13!) leering at the woman's ass in her bikini.

We now meet our hero idiot teens, created to be slightly dumber than the perceived audience for this film, which in this day and age is pretty hard to accomplish. There's Nick, who has to study but is bothered by the video game of hipster nerd Gordon, before they are interrupted by token black friend Malik (I PRAY he is not intended as a tribute to Terrence Malick) who tells them they will be going for the weekend to the house of Sara, attractive blonde who could be described as Robot Reese Witherspoon. They are joined by Maya, girlfriend of Malik who should expect a proposal this weekend, Beth, the slutty one, and Blake, the blond male bimbo. This is all happening in Louisiana, by the way.

So on the way out to the house we begin our content revolving around demonization of rural people. Our heroes stop at the local gas station, where the hick owner watches the women in the bathroom on the security cam. Outside, more rednecks pull up, one of them named Red, who immediately makes a racist comment to the token minority members. He is joined by Dennis--prompting a moment of "Oh my God, is that Starship Troopers guy?" [it's not]--who has a notable scar on his face, and who knows Sara, whose appearance defuses the situation. They all take a boat out to Sara's parents' house, which is this huge mansion on this island in the middle of this lake. Along the way we are introduced to Donal Logue, who I don't like but who deserves better than this, as Greg, the sheriff.

So before we get our kills started, we have a little gossip about Sara, and how, despite the fact that she's smokin', she has never had a date, and spends all of her time with her golden lab (also on hand). This got my hopes up for some content revolving around lasting childhood ego damage, as Sara seems to be a psychological infant, but actually it's less of a delve into psychosexual intrigue as the fact that actress Sara Paxton is able to convey about as much adult psychological maturity as a duckling that has been stunned with a mallet.

Then first thing Malik goes out doing... whatever that kind of waterskiing where you have one big board is. This provides a recreation of the well-known scene from Jaws 2, and while you're sitting there like "Is EVERY shark attack going to be a recreation of a kill from a Jaws film?" Malik gets bitten and loses an arm. You will later have cause to wonder how, if he was way out far away from the house when the attack occurred, he was able to swim back to the house (minus one arm, I remind you) so quickly. By the way, this is a SALT water lake, which sort of looks like a big swamp, with trees growing out in the middle of it, and, given the numerous shots of the murky green water, is not really a place any of us would really envy being. Also kind of explains the sharks, which are said to have "swum up over the interstate" during hurricane flooding. Oh dear, there are too many individually stupid parts for me to go into but--well okay, I'll go into this one:

They get Malik back on shore. Nick is called on to fix him, since Nick is a med student. In here Blake provides the first of numerous characters-are-idiots moment as he starts screaming at Nick: "What did you do to him?!" and blaming Nick for no reason. Then Nick gets up mid-lifesaving operation, runs off, and dives in the water! He swims around, looking at the bottom, while WE, the audience, are like "What the fuck is he looking for?" as well as "How can he see anything underwater without goggles?" What he's looking for is Malik's ARM which he handily finds just a few feet from the house, and also cleanly severed and just laying there, making you wonder why the shark attacked him in the first place, if not to eat some of him. Just sheer shark malice? I'd be WAYYY back on board if the movie established that these sharks are just total dickheads, and just want to mess with Sara and her crew just because they're JERKS. But the point is, as you can see, there are multiple levels of sheer moronity happening here all at once.

SPOILERS > > >
So they decide that they have to take the boat back (we've already established that they have no cell service, but really, no phone in the house? Sara's parents live there with NO way to contact the mainland?), with Maya protesting about how she's "Not leaving him!" so they take him to shore in the boat, get attacked (speedboats are sharks' natural enemy) and Maya gets dumped into the water. Well, here comes a shark, so after they toss her a life ring, they rev the boat and PULL her away from the oncoming shark, which might cause you to have numerous evil snickers over just how amazingly DUMB this all is, given that Mya is now receiving several hundred tons of water shot at high speed directly into her face. Well, SHE'LL have grime-free pores, that's for sure. Meanwhile, you have to be amazed that even in 2011, minorities STILL get it first!

Now we have to get rid of this boat, right? So we can be sure the kids are trapped on the island. So that fucking dickweed shark damages their rudder--fuck you, fucking dick shark!--and the boat hits the pier and explodes. So now they're all emitting the natural call of the modern youth: "Oh my God! Oh my God!" as the rednecks decide to stop by for tea. Our idiot heroes implore the rednecks to take them for help, and Gordon (hipster nerd) and Beth (slut) go along. Red, who has filed his teeth down to points, starts leering at Beth, and the two rednecks stop the boat, and order Gordon to get in the water and act as bait. The point is that they are NOT going for help. We also find out in here that it was DENNIS (scarred redneck and possible Starship Troopers guy [though not]) who PUT the sharks in the lake in the first place? Now why in tarnation would some redneck do a dad gum stupid thing like that?

So neither Gordon nor Beth make it. The rednecks actually push Beth in the water and then watch the sharks eat her. And now some backstory. You see, Dennis used to be the hot stud of the bayou back in the day, and Sara dated him. Then he found out she was going off to college to get her some sort of edgercashun, so he tried to KILL her and make it look like a diving accident. So she made it to surface (maybe that was where she sustained brain damage?) and started the propellor, which unfortunately provided a little impromptu plastic surgery to Dennis' face. BUT! Past becomes prologue as...

Sheriff Doug shows up at the house! And it looks like everything is fine, until the golden lab drinks the spilled soup intended for Sara (yeah, just stopped by in the middle of the night with some SOUP), and passes out. Then: When Sheriffs Attack! He's in league with the rednecks! He hands Sara over to Dennis and Red, and takes Nick to this boathouse where he is going to feed him to the sharks, after explaining their whole plot. You see, Shark Week gets huge ratings on TV. So what if the rednecks filmed people REALLY being eaten, then sold the videos? The Faces of Death series and "moral relativism" are both invoked. So these sharks are out eating tons of people in this lake, not just our campers, and no one has really noticed. This is why the shark they killed had the camera attached. Oh but wait, I forgot to tell you...

You see, after Malik learned that Mya was killed, he appears on the beach with a SPEAR. Personally, I think it raises a bunch of morally-troubling questions to have the BLACK GUY appear with a SPEAR--and WHERE exactly did that spear come from?--but apparently the filmmakers are unconcerned. So Malik is going to wade in the water and use HIMSELF as bait, and kill the shark. Amazingly, he does it! But the general emotion-based wrongheadedness of the whole enterprise is not, I suspect, a triumph for the black community. It's funny, the movie tut-tuts over the rednecks making racial comments, but thinks nothing of presenting these characters as stereotypes and idiots. Anyway, this is where Nick sees that the shark they killed has a camera attached, to film as it kills. Don't think too hard about all this.

So Nick escapes, and makes it over to where the Rednecks are putting Sara in a cage to film her getting eaten by the great white. Sara issues a tearful apology for abandoning Dennis and hurting his face, failing to bring up that he DID try to kill her. Then Nick shows up, there's a big fight, and eventually Dennis gets eaten and Nick rescues Sara. We're all good then!
< < < SPOILERS END

Yeah, so stupid as hell and morally despicable, but what else is new? Amusement is to be had just from how astonishingly dumb it is. This seems to be riding the coattails of last year's Piranha 3D, only that movie delighted in gore and tits, while this one is PG-13, so it almost comes off as sleazier, since it has to be more circumspect about delivering its baser instinct thrills. Pirhana was also about being really fun for the audience, while this one seems to shout "Sucker!" at the audience with every frame. And then there's the whole thing about the scorn and outright hatred it heaps on rural people, while at the same time portraying our college students as idiots and having its' black characters become victims first and show up with spears. This is just a deeply cynical, misanthropic and hateful movie. Which again, is not to say that it isn't amusing enough.

Should you watch it: 

I think you could do better.