5-Headed Shark Attack (2017)
Directed by Nico De Leon
If you’re going to make a movie about a shark with another shark head for a tail, you damn sure better do something creative with that tail head. 5-Headed Shark Attack does not, and that is an unforgivable b-movie sin.
For much of this third installment in The Asylum’s multi-headed Carcharodon franchise, I was wondering why they didn’t just make it 4-Headed Shark Attack since the shark’s tail doesn’t inexplicably develop into a fifth head until near the halfway point. Aside from an amusing visual of that rear head eating some scraps that have floated out of the other four mouths, honestly, they may as well have just made it 4-Headed Shark Attack. That tail head means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
The plot synopsis put out by The Asylum describes the 5-headed shark as being “shaped like a demented starfish,” which was, in all honesty, the only reason I bothered to tune in to Syfy for the premiere. My hopes of seeing some sort of weird starfish-like creature with shark heads at each end spinning about the ocean like Gamera flying thru the air were quickly dashed.
The shark does growl underwater. Don’t ask how. Blame global warming.
A fairly painless watch, but also fairly pointless, as it really doesn’t bring much fun, excitement, nor schlock value to the table, opting instead for an almost plot-less array of recycled shark movie cliches, lethargic characterizations, uninspired kills, a shockingly low body count (way too many extraneous characters still alive at the end), and an ending that sets the stage of an over-the-top visual only to cheat the audience by keeping that action almost exclusively off-camera. I suppose I enjoyed 5-Headed Shark Attack a bit more than 3-Headed Shark Attack, but it was still no 2-Headed Shark Attack.
The movie opens in Puerto Rico with a bikini shoot getting violently interrupted by a hungry 4-headed shark attack. Enter a team of marine biologists all so young looking I can only assume they graduated from college ten minutes before the movie began. They work for what I suppose counts as the film’s human villain, a shady fellow in the business of capturing sea creatures to display at his aquarium. A member of their group gets devoured almost immediately.
One of the sole survivors of 3-Headed Shark Attack was black so for the sake of parity this film’s only black character is one of the very first to perish.
Their greedy boss wants this mutant fish so badly he’ll say anything to convince them to help him reel it in. For money. For science. For revenge. It’s what your dead friend would have wanted. He pretty much checks all of these boxes in the course of one scene. Luckily for him, all of these junior marine biologists are idiots and agree to help. As they justify it to themselves, catching this shark for the sake of making money is wrong, but bringing it in alive for research is okay. For supposed scientists, they sure will prove to be testaments to poor decision-making.
Someone who proclaims to be a vegan and animal rights activist doesn’t strike me as someone who would be employed by a guy who uses her knowledge to capture sea life to be displayed in aquariums in the first place.
I’m also fairly certain I heard one of these so-called scientists describe the three-headed dog of Greek mythology, Cerberus, as having only two heads. I may have misheard that. I hope I misheard that. I’d go back and check, but I really don’t care that much.
The computer-generated sea creatures prove more lifelike than many of the actors. Everyone recites their lines with conviction, by which I mean they’re guilty of sounding dispassionate much of the time. Not that you can blame them given how little of interest they’re given to say.
“The ocean is a beautiful place. It can also be a dangerous place.” Lines rather casually stated after having just watched a close friend get ripped to shred and devoured alive by a hulking multi-headed shark.
How is it Syfy shark movies are almost always loaded with characters so unlikable, whiny, boring, or stupid they make you root for the shark? Oh, right. That’s actually the point of these films.
“The Dead Zone” TV series’ Chris Bruno joins the fray as the film’s resident shark hunter to try to get Jeff Fahey the hell out of this crap. At least he seems to be enjoying himself, more than I can say for some of the other disinterested-sounding performers.
Bruno’s character is nicknamed “Red” for reasons that don’t really make for nearly as compelling a story as he seems to believe. He seems to have a hard-luck shark story for every occasion, a character quirk that could have been spun into a running joke had the film allowed itself to have a sense of humor.
Main marine biologist lady strips down to her finest academic bikini and comes up with a plan to annoy the monster shark with dolphin sounds. If that doesn’t work, Red has a rather large arsenal of guns and bombs on board his recreational charter boat for hire, presumably for all those tourists heading down to Puerto Rico looking for the thrill of attempting to overthrow a Caribbean government.
A helicopter shows up just long enough for the shark to jump out of the water and bite it out of the sky. Once upon a time, such a scene would be set up and treated as a spectacular set piece. Now it’s treated as an afterthought.
I will say this may be the first shark movie in history where yelling at someone to “Swim faster!” as they’re being pursued by a hungry shark actually saves their life. Somebody should have also repeatedly yelled, “Stop standing on the outer edges of the boat, dammit!,” which would have prevented roughly 90% of the shark-related kills.
So, to recap 5-Headed Shark Attack:
Shark eats people.
People hunt shark.
Shark eats them.
Those not asking for much from these films will get as little as they hoped for. Those like me wanting a little more even from a schlocky Syfy shark flick will walk away with a great big shrug.
Five heads. Three screenwriters. No brains.