‘Something In The Water’ Review: Perfectly Fin(e) Sharksploitation

Something in the Water

I have reviewed so many killer shark films over the years. I’m always on the hunt for the next coming of Jaws. As it turns out, Hayley Easton Street’s Something In The Water may not be the white whale I continuously chase. But it isn’t half bad. Though the film doesn’t tread a lot of new water, it still functions as a serviceable killer shark picture with a strong cast, solid cinematography, and a couple of intense sequences. Though you could do better, you could also do much worse.  

Something In The Water follows a quintet of gal pals who meet up in a tropical paradise for an idyllic wedding celebration. The ladies take a small boat out for an island holiday, but a shark bites one of the women, putting a major damper on the festivities. The fivesome race back to shore but bottom out on a reef, leaving them stranded in the middle of the ocean. Yikes!

How Does Something In The Water Stack Up Against Other Shark Horror?

Something In The Water is middle-of-the-road fare that manages to be far better than contemporaries like Shark Bait or The Requin but never reaches the level of The Reef: StalkedOne aspect that elevates the film above some of its peers is that it eschews the buildup and goes straight for the action, taking matters from 0 to 60 with little notice. That approach is used to great effect here. I didn’t initially react when matters escalated because I was convinced we were dealing with a false alarm. But I was pleasantly surprised to see screenwriter Cat Clarke cut to the chase. Skipping past the requisite false alarm lends an air of unpredictability to the proceedings. While I wish that exchange was more than a one-off occurrence, it still functions as a welcome disruption of the standard formula. 

Another standout element is the cinematography. The tropical locale is beautifully captured with plenty of grandiose shots of the scenery contained within the first act. The underwater cinematography yields some impressive shots while working to highlight how vulnerable these ladies are. The sight of their limbs dangling like shark snacks serves to warn of horrors to come. 

Speaking of the underwater camerawork, there is a scene that sees the ocean tinted red with blood. We witness a shot of the water framed entirely in crimson. That sequence is a visceral display that is artistically rendered. The entire sequence works as a poignant juxtaposition of beauty alongside tragedy. 

The picture also makes rather effective use of wide, expansive shots that make the core characters look tiny in comparison to the vast expanse of the ocean. Again, this serves to underscore how isolated, vulnerable, and alone these ladies are. 

A Solid Script and Rocky Pacing

Cinematography aside, the film also scores points for delivering a few good comedic exchanges. Something in the Water features some quippy banter between the leads. Their dynamic is fairly realistic, making the inevitable fractures in their friendship feel all the more genuine. That piece becomes important when the film loses stamina around the one-hour mark. 

The picture clocks in at about 80 minutes without factoring in the closing credits. With such a short runtime, I was expecting the pace to maintain throughout. But that’s not always the case. The tension is palpable until it isn’t. The picture starts to drag during the third act as all of the tension that has mounted in the first two acts begins to fizzle in favor of melodrama. The conversation turns to minutia to pass the time. While the character dynamics keep the picture afloat, such a lull takes a toll on the pacing.

Momentary tonal shifts can be effective when the audience is lured into a false sense of security only to have that expectation shattered. But the lull goes on too long here and the return to form never recaptures the momentum of the first two acts. The film would have greatly benefited from at least one more close call to keep the viewer on their toes at the end.  

What About The Shark?

I found it frustrating watching the shark swim by during the narrative downturn, as if doing so solely to remind us a threat is still present. Yet, instead of causing more chaos, the creature proceeds to swim away, not coming into focus again for far too long. Worse yet, the next death following the lull comes by way of a character quietly drowning off-camera. I wish that setup had been staged differently and was instead utilized to keep the tension afloat. 

The film eventually ramps the tension level back up for the denouement but it never fully recovers from the melodramatic misstep. If the third act had maintained the pacing more effectively, the film would have been better for it.

All things considered, Something in the Water is serviceable sharksploitation fare. If you’re keen to check the film out, you can find it in select theaters and on VOD beginning May 3, 2024. 

  • ‘There’s Something in the Water'


This killer shark flick gets enough right to warrant a watch.

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