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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Shark Night

January 11th, 2012

Shark Night - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or Video On Demand

Shark Night opened in theaters at the beginning of September, which is one of the worst times of the year to release a movie. It wasn't expected to be a big hit, but it missed low expectations earning less than $20 million at the box office. Is it as bad as its box office performance would indicate? Or is there another explanation here? (Perhaps 3D fade is just too much and moviegoers are tuning out.) And if it is worth checking out, are there enough extras to warrant buying over just renting?

The Movie

After a short prologue, we are introduced to a number of college students as they go on a spring break vacation at Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. This includes Sara Palski, whose parents own the cabin they will staying at. There's also Nick LaDuca, who's pre-med; his roommate Gordon, who has no plans on graduating any time soon; Malik, an athlete Nick tutored; Maya, Malik's girlfriend; Beth, whom we meet getting a tattoo; and Blake, whom we meet posing as a nude model for an art class.

When they first get to their destination, a very small town in the backwoods of Louisiana, they run into Red and Dennis, two locals looking to start something, and even making some bigoted remarks about Maya. However, Sara is able to calm things down, because she's an old girlfriend of Dennis. Just after that encounter, they take off on a speed boat to the island where the cabin is, but Sara's aggressive boating draws the attention of the cops... so she hits the gas and tries to outrun them. Her friends think they are going to spend their vacation in jail, but the sheriff, Greg Sabin, is an old friend of Sara and her family and her racing him is something they've been doing for years.

They finally get to start their vacation properly, Malik goes water skiing, but when he wipes out, he's under the water for a long time. When he finally gets to shore, he's missing half of his right arm. Something bit off his arm. Nick is able to stabilize Malik and recover the arm from the lake, but they need to get him to a hospital as soon as possible, if they want to save his arm. But their troubles with sharks are just starting.

I don't think anyone was expecting Shark Night to be a good movie in the traditional sense, as it is clearly what I like to call, "Low Expectations Cinema". Unfortunately, it failed to live up to my low, low expectations. The goal of the filmmakers here should have been to create a campy B-movie with lots of silly thrills. They should have tried to make a "Boobs and Blood" style teenage slasher film, only with sharks as your big bad guy. However, inexplicably, the studio decided they wanted this to be a PG-13 movie, so there couldn't be enough of either to even work in that regard. The only nudity we see is Blake posing in art class, while most of the kills are just people thrashing around in the water, which then turns red. When we do see sharks, they tend to look awfully cheap.

All of these elements really hurt the film. Also, and this is more unforgivable, it's just a dull movie. I can't tell you how many times I checked the running time while watching the film. Instead of a goofy, fun film, they made the movie more Torture Porn with a dark feel to it, and no real humor. And I'm not even going to get into the logical flaws in the movie. (Were they in a private lake?) It was a real chore to sit through.

The Extras

The extras on the Blu-ray start with Shark Attack! Kill Machine!, a six-minute montage of all of the kills from the movie. Even in this condensed form, I still grew bored before I got to the halfway point. Shark Night's Survival Guide is more clips from the movie, with a handful of shark facts spoken by an annoying narrator. Fake Sharks, Real Scares is a five-minute featurette on the making of the sharks. It's the only featurette worth watching. Finally there's Ellis' Island, which is a four-minute featurette on the director. The Blu-ray also comes with a digital copy of the movie.

As for the technical presentation, it's not good. Much of the film takes place either at night or underwater, or both, so its murky, lacks detail, the color palette is limited, etc. Worse still, on high definition, the CG sharks look even more fake. The audio is unfortunately equally unimpressive. The surround sound speakers do include a lot of water noise, but it's mostly music that gets pumped out at you from the rear.

The Blu-ray only costs 50 cents more than the DVD on, but frankly it's not worth renting, so that doesn't really matter.

The Verdict

Shark Night is Torture Porn with the bad guys throwing their victims into shark infested waters. It would have been much better if they had thrown sharks at their victims... from moving cars. Drive-by sharking. At least then it would have been B-movie fun. What we have to deal with is not worth buying, not worth renting, and not worth sitting through for free. Skip the Shark Night - Buy from Amazon: DVD. Skip the Blu-ray Combo Pack. Skip Video On Demand.

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Filed under: Video Review, Shark Night 3D