Shark Night 3D (2011)

Shark Night ReviewStarring Joel David Moore, Katharine McPhee, Sara Paxton

Directed by David R. Ellis

It’s nature run amok and then some in Rogue Pictures latest genre offering, Shark Night 3D. After setting off with a group of college friends for a relaxing weekend away from school, Sara (Sara Paxton) and the gang quickly strip down to their swimsuits and start boozing it up on the water near our heroine’s island lake house.

But when star football player Malik (Sinqua Walls) stumbles from the saltwater lake with his arm torn off after a wakeboarding accident, the party mood suddenly darkens. Reluctant hero Nick (Dustin Milligan), finds himself taking charge since he’s the only one in the group that’s pre-med and does his best to keep his friend alive but alerts his friends how dire the situation is- they’ve got two hours to get Malik to a hospital on the other side of the lake or he loses his arm forever which doesn’t bode to well for the should-have-been future NFL All-Star.

Setting out in a tiny speedboat, the co-eds have the misfortune of discovering just a tad too late that the lake has been stocked with countless sharks that would love nothing more than a tasty college student for a snack.

When the boat malfunctions and everyone ends up marooned at Sara’s island house with no hope for cell phone signal or medical care for the fading Malik- Sara, Nick and the rest of the survivors soon find out that they’re trip has been deliberately sabotaged and as they face one gruesome attack after another, it becomes pretty evident that someone is engineering a deadly plot aimed at killing them all. Is it Sara’s former flame Dennis (Chris Carmack)? Is it his redneck henchman Red (Joshua Leonard)? Is it classic rock loving Sherriff Sabin (Donal Logue)? Or could it be pervert shop owner Carl (Jimmy Lee Jr.)?

Whoever it is, one thing is for certain- with their options for rescue dwindling, Sara and her friends must find a way to survive both the sharks and the maniacs responsible for unleashing the sharks into the surrounding lakes before it’s too late.

With director David R. Ellis at the helm (the mastermind behind movies like Snakes on a Plane and Final Destination 2), I was hoping for a lot of campy fun and great shark action sequences in Shark Night 3D but sadly, Ellis gets really close to the camp factor of the aforementioned SNAKES but never quite delivers the fun, schlocky film that he should have.

When you are making a movie about a madman who unleashes numerous killer sharks to stalk and prey on a group of sexy college kids in the murky lakes of Louisiana, you should darn well know what kind of tone to use that the people who show up for this kind of movie would be hoping for. We want silly characters, scary monsters, clever kills and a satisfying conclusion but Shark Night 3D only really gets just some of those things right.

Screenwriters Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg deliver a somewhat entertaining story that settles in somewhere between a SyFy flick and last year’s Piranha 3D in terms of quality but sadly, it’s most of the cast that plays their roles straight which ends up taking any sort of campy energy right out of the flick. Sure, things get crazy fun campy in the third act but ultimately, the last 20 minutes don’t quite balance out with the previous 61 minutes of Shark Night 3D. I wanted all or nothing but Hayes and Studenberg unfortunately play it safe and give you a little of both instead of going balls out in the fun department. I mean, if you have a cookie-cutter shark that cuts its victim in a circular motion and then sucks the flesh out with its mouth, you damn well better give us some good eye candy moments with that little bugger. Instead, we get some murky teasings of awesomeness which bummed me out.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to like about this movie. There are some pretty fun performances in Shark Night 3D: I rather enjoyed watching “The O.C.” alum Carmack chew the scenery a bit (and mostly without a shirt, thank God) throughout the film and Moore delivers his usual lovable awkward wingman performance yet again . Honestly, it’s a performance I never tire of seeing because I have always found that Moore is a guy that I always enjoy seeing whenever he pops up on the big screen. So watching him as goofy, wanna-be ladies’ man Gordon was rather entertaining.

Also, I’ve never seen McPhee in anything before and I’ve never watched “American Idol” myself so I had no idea what to expect from her but I liked what she did with her portrayal of the saucy sexpot Beth and I’ll admit I wish they had used her more as I think she livened up the tone somewhat.

The 3D in Shark Night was decent- some good eye-popping moments but overall, nothing I really saw that warranted spending an extra $4 a ticket. And if you’re hoping to catch some topless girls floating around in 3D, let me just say you should just hold off on that expectation for November’s PIRANHA 3DD- this flick is PG-13 so it does play it on the safe side.

If you do check out Shark Night 3D in theaters, you’ll definitely want to sit through the credits for some pretty awesome music videos featuring the charismatic cast doing their best efforts at rapping about sharks, chicks and missing arms. Honestly, they’re so entertaining, I found myself wishing the Shark Night movie had as much campy energy as the music videos.

The one thing I will say is that there are a lot of great action sequences in Shark Night 3D and that’s no doubt due to Ellis’ masterful eye for creating pulse-pounding moments in cinema. And while I wouldn’t say that Shark Night 3D is his best work, the movie does rank right up there with Ellis’ finer directorial efforts.

Could Shark Night 3D have been stronger overall? Sure, but ultimately the movie ends up being one of those movies you don’t really love but you don’t have a reason to hate either. It’s a fun movie to see on a Friday night with a big group of friends for some mindless fun and that’s about it.

3 out of 5

Discuss Shark Night 3D in the comments section below!

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  • Jon Condit

    2.5?!?!?!?! Are you fucking kidding me? Van Helsing was a God damn master piece compared to this movie.

    • Foywonder

      Oh, come on now, let’s not go overboard. This could never be worse than Van Helsing by virtue of it being nearly an hour shorter. I’m not going to argue with anyone that hates this one because I can fully understand why. I thought quite a few of those why’s were howlers. Chalk it up to the power of low expectations and I don’t think it would have been humanly possible for me to have walked into that theater with expectations any lower than they were. Also, after a week in which I suffered through Killer Mountain, Smile, Boggy Creek, and 1313: Giant Killer Bees!, believe me when I tell you Shark Night looks like a masterpiece.

    • thehorrorchick

      Jon, I would go head-to-head with you over SN3D being better than VH (not Van Halen, but Van Helsing) any day. The big difference? SN3D was intentionally supposed to make you laugh and didn’t waste its budget on shitty overblown CGI monsters that looked dated two days after the film’s release or feature Hugh Jackman delivering a performance that where he looked like he had to take a dump the entire time either.

      Was SN3D as good as I had been hoping? No way. But it was a rather enjoyable (albeit forgettable) silly flick that should have had an R rating and gone a little further in the absurdity department in order to make it as fun as it had promised to be.

  • Vanvance1

    The review makes this film sound like fun. The thing is if Ellis could make a concept like ‘Snakes on a Plane’ bland why would he do better with sharks?

    Maybe Foy is right and this’ll play better on blu. I’ll wait.

    • thehorrorchick

      Wait for Blu; it’ll be money better spent!