Sand Sharks (UK DVD)
Directed by Mark Atkins
Distributed by Chelsea Films
Just when you thought it was safe to stay the hell out of the water, along come the toothy subterranean predators of Sand Sharks -- the latest in the current long line of Syfy-Originals-meets-The-Asylum style “nature gone amok” flicks littering DVD shelves and cable television timeslots the world over.
Anyone familiar with the kind of fare just mentioned (*cough* Dinoshark *cough*) will know exactly what to expect from a flick like this. It’s a given that it isn’t going to be a legitimately good movie by any stretch of the imagination – but it can at least be entertaining, right? Well, in these cases that depends entirely on whether the writer(s) and filmmaker(s) can pull off just the right combination of careless fun whipped with some blatant cheese, sprinkled with a handful of outright insanity, baked in the warmth of cinematic irreverence and finished off with a drizzle of genre love. Unfortunately, while a few individual parts of the winning recipe shine through in Sand Sharks, the meal as a whole is too often sour and unsatisfying.
The plot here follows lawmaking duo Deputy Young (Vanessa Lee Evigan) and Sheriff Stone (Eric Scott Woods) as they’re forced to close the shores of their sleepy resort town, White Sands, when locals begin meeting a violent end at the jaws of some mysterious beast. Calling in shark expert Sandy Powers (Hogan), they soon learn that the cause of the recent increase in mysterious deaths is in fact a bunch of prehistoric sharks that are able to move through sand as easily as water – sucking unsuspecting victims under Blood Beach style or leaping from the ground to take mid-air chomps before disappearing back into the earth. Meanwhile, Deputy Young’s slimy ex-boyfriend and wannabe hotshot events promoter, Jimmy (Nemec), is also back in town and looking to save the economically struggling White Sands by starting his own epic spring break party – the Sandman Festival.
Of course, all of the impending carnage is realised by some spectacularly awful CGI that utterly fails to bring any sense of the creatures’ physical presence to the screen, including some mind-bogglingly bizarre abandonment of perception that leaves individual sharks looking jaw-droppingly massive one moment and merely man-sized the next. The cast are uniformly unimpressive, with only Nemec managing to inject the necessary spark as he chews more scenery than the sharks, while the woeful Brooke Hogan gives Tara Reid’s appallingly unlikely turn as a scientist in Alone in the Dark a run for its money. The knowingly tongue-in-cheek attitude that Sand Sharks openly flaunts, try as it might, just doesn’t help make it any easier to stomach.
Efforts at comedy and multiple genre references routinely fall flat (a nod to Roger Corman and Syfy Original movies is delivered with particularly groan-worthy incompetence), with mostly unintentional humour proving the most successful, such as Green’s celebration of his wildly successful festival that appears to have attracted a grand total of 30 college kids – something that director Atkins does indeed attempt to stage a bustling rave scene with. There are sporadic moments of legitimate entertainment and gleeful wackiness (again, the vast majority of which are solely down to Nemec’s performance), but when everything that surrounds these rare bursts of delight feels as directionless and shoddy as it does here – not to mention a complete lack of the requisite nudity and low impact gore – it all proves a particularly disappointing waste of time. If you’re looking for a comedic Spring Break aquatic monster flick that delivers what you need, then just watch Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D again. Similarly, if you’re looking for a great creature feature with monsters munching people from under the sand, then you should just go back to Tremors. These Sand Sharks are better off staying out of sight.
Chelsea Pictures’ UK DVD presentation sports only the film’s trailer as its sole special feature. Not that it deserves anything more, mind.
1 out of 5
1/2 out of 5