A Fin-Filled Weekend
Director: David R. Ellis
Writers: Will Hayes, Jesse Studenberg
Cast: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katharine McPhee, Chris Zylka, Alyssa Diaz, Joel David Moore, Sinqua Walls, Donal Logue, Joshua Leonard
SYNOPSIS: College friends head into the Louisiana Gulf to weekend at one of the girl's family's island estates. Once there, freak shark attacks start picking off the vacationers one at a time.
REVIEW: David R. Ellis, former actor, stuntman and director of The Final Destination, Snakes on a Plane and Cellular, takes a script from relative newcomer scribes Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg to take on a horror sub-genre that arguably has one of the best suspense water-related horror films ever created - Jaws! In the first scene alone, Ellis pays homage to Spielberg with his first shark attack on a young woman who thrashes back and forth before her final submersion like the bonfire girl from the original shark epic. From there, Shark Night (3D) is a mix of the classic late 70s and 80s splatterfests and Deep Blue Sea.
At the end of a hectic college semester, seven friends and acquaintances head to the family island estate of Sara's(Sara Paxton) in the middle of the Louisiana Gulf. Joining her are Nick (Dustin Milligan), the pre-med student with eyes for Sara, Beth (Katharine McPhee), Sara's friend, self-absorbed Blake (Chris Zylka), footballer Malik (Sinqua Walls), Malik's girlfriend Maya (Alyssa Diaz), and Nick's gamer geek friend Gordan (Joel David Moore). All great slasher flicks have an abundance of nubile young adults to be used for cannon fodder - or shark bait - and Shark Night is no different. Once the vacationers get to the island, they settle in and start enjoying the pool and the water. A water skiing accident that the group thinks is a propeller run over turns out to be a shark attack.As they try to stabilize their friend and get him back to the mainland for treatment, another shark attack claims another victim. Soon, the remaining members are confronted with staying on the island, trying to get back to the mainland by other methods, or trusting in strange locals that offer their help.
The 3D is rarely used to its potential. Sure, the bubbles trailing off underwater swimmers and the foreground kelp look great, but only once did any of the shark attacks catch me off guard. I would have seen the non-3D version if I could have, but the studio and theaters did not offer enough of those showings for me to get to. If you can find the non-3D version, opt for that version instead.
Of course, Shark Night (3D) is never going to come close to the original film that made many of a generation decide that swimming in the ocean was not for them. In fact, none of the news of shark attacks in the recent past have affected people like Jaws did. More akin to Deep Blue Sea than Jaws, Shark Night (3D) does make good use of the CGI technology for the sharks, holds itself to the standard of the typical spatter/slasher archetype, and provides a neat little twist as to why so many sharks managed to get into an environment that they typical don't sink their teeth into. Don't expect too much more than the genre normally provides and you will enjoy the sharkfest for what it is - a splashy fin-filled college co-ed buffet.
WORTH: Matinee or DVD