90210 Shark Attack (2014)
Directed by David DeCoteau
Released by Rapid Heart Pictures
There are five things you have to understand about 90210 Shark Attack.
1) It takes place in Beverly Hills.
2) Near the ocean.
3) Where sharks swim.
4) At a fancy house.
5) With a swimming pool that has fountains.
It is crucial you that you understand these five things because the filmmaker endlessly establishes them via stock footage. Again and again: Beverly Hills scenery, crashing waves on the beach, both nature footage and computer-generated footage of sharks in the ocean, exterior shots of this beach house and the even fancier swimming pool into which water pours from a fountain-like structure. Nearly every scene transition sees those five images presented in varying orders, often recycling the same shots over and over, frequently reversing the images just to make them appear a teensy tiny bit different.
But unlike previous viewings of David DeCoteau’s cinematic by-products that left me filled with a combination of Hulk-like rage and Cthulu-esque madness, 90210 Shark Attack was a tad more tolerable thanks to getting to see this film through the eyes of a co-worker of mine who chooses to remain nameless because he cannot fathom why I watch films such as this and would prefer not to be drawn any further into my web of madness. It was an unusually dead night at work so I decided to pass the time by viewing this, whatever this was that bore a passing resemblance to what some may call a motion picture. Joining me was someone who is not a snarky internet critic, someone older and not in tune with the works of this or most other current b-moviemakers, a casual movie watcher unprepared to bear witness to the death throes of cinema right before his very eyes. My colleague was left dumbfounded that a movie like this got released today despite looking less professional than the home movies he and friends used to make in high school back in the 1970’s.
Ladies and gentlemen, David DeCoteau presents the latest installment of his seemingly infinite series of “Padded Pictures Playhouse” where there’s more b-roll than b-movie and calling it a waste of time seems redundant given there’s more wasting time on-screen than actual movie.
Right from the get-go we’re treated to three-and-a-half minutes of opening credits stock footage; the first time of many, many, many times it will be painstakingly established that this movie is taking place in a house in Beverly Hills next to the ocean filled with sharks and this house has a fancy swimming pool with fountains. Believe it or not, I actually got my hopes up due to the music accompanying this imagery sounding so much like the soundtrack to a Golan-Globus action picture I was quietly hoping Michael Dudikoff would show up with scuba gear and speargun ready to star in American Sharkhunter. Never a good sign when you’re already imagining a better film in your head during the opening credits.
The five-minute closing credits are even more astounding in the lengths to which they go to further lengthen the running time even after the film has ended. A slow montage of actor footage with their names on the screen, culminating in actress Donna Wilkes; then, after her name and image fade to black, the very next graphic to appear is Donna Wilkes’ name(!), thus beginning a second round of individual actor credits sans images this time.
When it comes to editing, DeCoteau is the anti-Michael Bay. If someone walks up the stairs or down the stairs, if they walk up a hallway or down a hallway, if they walk to the pool or back, you will witness every single scintillating step of their time-killing journey in real time.
This led us to begin what we came to call “the counting game.” We began counting out loud the seconds it took every time someone walked down a hallway, to and back from the pool, or up or down those damn stairs. My one regret was not keeping a tally of all these countdowns to get a better idea of just how much this tactic padded the runtime. I’m guessing a considerable amount given we rarely counted less than 10 seconds and quite often surpassed 30.
I swear Noises Off doesn’t have as many scenes of people going up and down staircases. This movie really should have been titled Upstairs, Downstairs because you’ll see far more stair-climbing than shark attacks.
Not counting the oft-used stock footage of random sharks milling about the ocean, the actual shark attacks in the movie with “shark attack” in the title comprise about ten total seconds of screen time. By contrast, shirtless beefcakes showering and swimming in slow motion constitutes at least ten minutes of screen time.
I was only willing to roll the dice and take a gamble on 90210 Shark Attack because of that one laughable special effect shot in the trailer of a young woman’s head transforming into a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me half-bodied shark. Problem is, turns out that’s the only f/x shot and it gets repeated very briefly four or five times and the first time isn’t even until the 40-minute mark. Just to make matters worse, we don’t even get to see the kills. Nope. The second that shark head materializes to chomp a victim, it cuts away to our five-point montage because money shots are far less important than making us fully understand once more that this movie is set in Beverly Hills near the ocean filled with sharks and that this fancy house has a fancy swimming pool.
Also, it’s kind of hard to have money shots when your budget appears to have been in the tens of dozens of dollars.
A group of oceanography students have gathered at a very large and noticeably empty house in Beverly Hills by the ocean filled with sharks. (Did you know it has a swimming pool with fountains?) Their teacher is the raspy voiced Donna Wilkes, best remembered for her role as a cute potential victim in Jaws 2 some 35+ years ago. The rest of the cast is about what you expect from a DeCoteau flick – the usual assortment of hot babes and hunky twinks. Take a wild guess which show more skin, typically in slow motion.
This isn’t so much a shark attack movie as it is a demonic curse flick about a young woman cursed by a tribe of Mexican shark worshippers after her shady oceanographer father… Why am I bothering to explain? It really doesn’t matter. It’s not like there’s an actual storyline here.
When it was over, my somehow still friend and co-worker simply asked: “Who could possibly be entertained by this bullshit? Homosexual natives living so deep in the jungle they’ve never seen a movie or washboard abs before?”
No, as I kept trying to make him understand, the target audience is clearly people who absolutely love movies that take place in Beverly Hills near the ocean filled with sharks at and around a fancy house that has a swimming pool with fountains. 90210 Shark Attack has everything those viewers could ever possibly want.