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A bottom-feeding exploitation flick offering just enough giggles to divert whatever low-expectations crowd it can chum into theaters on opening weekend, Shark Night 3D should be forgotten at the box office well before the headaches triggered by its unappealing 3D lensing have faded.
Directed by Snakes on a Plane schlockmeister David R. Ellis from a screenplay that’s not smart enough to wring self-aware humor from its premise, the pic manages to emasculate its many jawed predators by making them mere pawns of bayou bumpkins. Grafting shark-attack clichés to the slasher genre, it envisions a Louisiana salt-water lake that locals have stocked with as many shark species as they could get — they’ve attached cameras to the sharks, hoping to gather enough Faces of Death-like attack footage to become rich on the internet. After all, everyone knows you can make a fortune with viral videos.
The irony here is that, while the baddies’ plan requires maximum gore, Shark Night can’t offer any: The PG-13 film is heavy on scenes of cloudy blood in the water but almost entirely lacking shock shots of flesh torn asunder. (And while marketing relies heavily on bikinis, the movie’s light on that kind of flesh as well.)
To be honest, the lack of gore doesn’t hurt the movie much, though Ellis’ reliance on the image of a shark hurtling through the air as a stand-in for carnage gets old quickly, and probably earns laughs before he intends it to. The plot is so eager to churn through its generic victims, so uninterested in suspense, that lingering visually on any one death would just slow it down. (Twice while setting up the story, Ellis speeds through action as if worrying viewers might nod off; when the credits end well before the 90-minute mark, he has to toss in a dumb faux-rap recap to stretch the running time to feature length.)
The gaggle of college kids being fed to the fish here are so bland it’s hard to care who dies first. Ringleader Sara Paxton, whose character has invited friends out to this ill-fated weekend getaway, exhibits none of the pluck that helped keep the fright flick The Innkeepers from succumbing to inertia, and her love interest Dustin Milligan, unconvincingly playing a med student, is no better. While the bad guys boast interesting talent like Joseph Leonard (Humpday), the movie turns him into a grotesque with filed-down teeth and not two synapses to rub together. It’s just as well: If he had any brain power, he’d figure out to hop into a different fright flick and terrorize characters worth his time.
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