23 August 2012


Twelve Things about Shark Night 3D

12. There was no way this movie was not going to be compared to Jaws. (Yeah, that's a double negative. So?) The filmmakers knew it, decided not to fight it, and ended up having some fun with it. And so we have an opening scene that homages the selachian classic, seemingly with no other purpose than to get the unfair comparisons out of the way.

How interesting--and how fitting--to learn later that there is more to this scene than what is . . . ahem . . . on the surface.

11. I was drawn to this movie for two reasons: my deep, dark fascination for what I call "monsters in the water" and my cheesy love of ensemble casts (preferably teenagers, although colonial marines will do in a pinch) that get taken down one by one. Shark Night 3D was just made to order, you know?

Yet I remain surprised that despite its crazy premise (namely, man-eating sharks in a salt water lake--and how they got there), it's actually a decent B-movie I can see myself watching again and again.

10. For one thing, the characters' most "foolish" decisions, in the sense that these lead directly to their deaths, are arguably also reasonable decisions, in the sense that the outcomes could have also gone the other way. These weren't dumb, impulsive acts, but calculated, even heroic risks that, unfortunately, did not pay off. And I have no less respect for the characters who took them. (Well, save one. See if you can guess who.)

9. Our main cast are uni students looking forward to a fun weekend at one girl's island bungalow. It would have been so easy for the story to have taken the usual condescending tone towards the soft, spoiled kids of academia whose karma has come back to haunt them.

If you're thinking that it looks like a bad music video . . .
Just wait. =P

But the screenplay has a very unexpected angle. There's actually some sociological commentary here: a contrast between those who can go off to uni and those who can't.

Don't get your hopes up too high, though. Any food for thought in Shark Night 3D is served up with a hefty helping of cheese. (But we like it that way, don't we?)

8. No scientists were harmed--or even consulted, apparently--during the making of this film. I'm no medical expert, but I really don't think a character who has just lost an arm would be able to do everything this script makes him do after the accident.

Nor do I believe sharks are capable of the sort of stunts we see here--but they result in some awesome kills, so I'm not complaining. =P

7. SPOILER ALERT! Here is my favourite kill--taped off the TV using a potato (as my brother would say) . . .

I'll bet it's great in 3D. =D I watched this movie on cable, so I don't really know--but even if I hadn't, I have ocular issues that mean I will never be able to appreciate 3D effects. It's killing me to identify this movie properly as Shark Night 3D when I just know it as Shark Night.

6. Oh, speaking of cable, one character asks: "What is cable television's longest running event?"

And I knew the answer. Not just because the movie makes it obvious, but because I am in a nerdy position to know.

Isn't it the most beautiful thing you've ever seen???
I want one for my wall . . .

Embedded in this lovely bit of countertext is my pet question of whether Horror as entertainment can be moral, or whether we are just rationalizing our being drawn to darkness. How can we condemn those who are entertained by death, when we like it, too? That we don't actually kill people seems completely peripheral. Where do we draw the line?

5. Here, the line is drawn between those Haves vs. Have Nots. Two lines, actually. It's not just a university education that can unnaturally divide two groups of people in a country; it's also cable television. I know it sounds silly, but I'm totally serious. Access to certain media can create a great cultural divide--and inasmuch as one group becomes "fluent" in those media, the Haves and Have Nots also become the Cans and Cannots. And the consequences may be just as dire (if not as awesome) as what we see in this movie.

4.  Anyone else wonder--upon learning that this is set in Louisiana--why all those gators in the bayou weren't enough and they had to bring in some sharks? There's actually a decent answer to that, and it's hidden somewhere in this post!

3. The only part of the movie I really didn't like was the exposition, when the girl who invites her friends over for the weekend explains why she hasn't been home in three years. Such scenes are always risky because they kill the pacing, but this one is especially ridiculous. As the girl explains her troubled history with her high school sweetheart, who himself never made it to uni, I thought the screenplay took its only stultifying shortcut. His character would have been so much more interesting if he had made the choices he had as a response to his socioeconomic position and not because he was a vengeful, sociopathic jerk.

2. Among lighter issues . . . Does anyone else hold his breath with the characters when they get trapped under water? =P

1. And just when I thought there wasn't any good reason to cast Katherine McPhee in this . . .

Look closely and you'll see that the scenes in this "bonus" music video were filmed right after the corresponding scenes in the movie were wrapped. Which means it was not a fun afterthought, but an essential part of the vision for Shark Night 3D. A tidbit that should tell you all you need to know about this B-movie with a heart of cheddar.

Image Sources: a) Shark Night 3D poster, b) Shark Week


Sullivan McPig said...

2: nope, I start hyperventilating. good times! (seriously: underwater movies are so not for me.)

Jenny said...

Oh dear! I hadn't even heard of this one but I love ridiculous movies like this. Making wagers on who will live and who will die is my favorite game....sigh. I guess that makes me rather morbid.

Enbrethiliel said...


Sully -- LOL! Is there some other quirky "endurance test" you subject yourself to when you watch a movie?

Jenny -- It's ridiculous in the best way. =D I love the twist, even as I see how dumb it is. LOL! While I'm reasonably good at predicting the order in which the "fodder" characters will die, what I'd really like to do is work out an algorithm for it. (Yeah, I know, I'm weird!)

Sheila said...

I am angry. The computer ate my comment. But I will take a deep breath and try again.

Your point in #6 is probably the reason I can't watch horror. I am sensitive; I empathize. I don't like empathizing with people and then having them get killed. I prefer them to get married in the end, or at least finish an incredible journey or defeat a big scary foe. It's bad enough death exists in real life; I'm not going to subject myself to it at the movies, too.

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila, I actually read your comment last night but couldn't reply to it until this afternoon. That gave me more time to think about it, though, and I think the answer I have now is better than what I would have had yesterday.

On a superficial level, I certainly suspend a lot of empathy when I watch this kind of Horror. I start the movie knowing that a bunch of characters are going to get killed, and that makes their deaths "okay" in one sense. On the other hand, of course, killings are not really okay--which even these movies admit by letting there be villains who must be stopped.

But there is another, more self-conscious level on which I appreciate Horror. I call it, for lack of a better term, the Morality Play level. I think there is a compulsion of the soul (if you will) that makes us want to act out--very literally act out--what we know to be true. On a soul level, it is not enough to know that killing is wrong; we must participate, either as actors or audience members, in the represented reality that evil tempts us and that we often give into it because it's fun. (I wrote a little more about that in the last two parts of my Twelve Things about Night of the Demons post.)

All this is why I think the music video is such a great addition to the movie. It's as if all the dead characters came back to life and admitted it was "just a morality play." (Hmmmm. Maybe I should edit my post to add this . . .)