Best Movies of All Time + thriller



"Maybe someone put them here."
-- Nick

Shark Night is a 2011 thriller directed by David R. Ellis that centers around a Louisiana lake's infestation with man-eating sharks. When a group of college co-eds decides to take a weekend vacation at Sara's (Sara Paxton) family lake house, they assume it will be a weekend filled with alcohol, sex and all-around partying. All-star football player Malik (Sinqua Walls) and friend Gordon (Joel David Moore) attempt to instill confidence in Nick (Dustin Milligan) who desperately wants Sara to notice him. At the same time, Sara's friend Beth (Katharine McPhee) tries to persuade her to go for Nick as well. When the group arrives, they meet some hostile locals named Dennis (Chris Carmack) and Red (Joshua Leonard) who seem agitated by Sara's return to the island. The group of co-eds continues to the lake house where they start to enjoy themselves. While wakeboarding, however, Malik is attacked by a shark and loses one of his arms. Terrified, the rest of the group does their best to contact help while trying to reason why a shark would be found in a lake. As time continues to pass, the reasons become clearer, and a more sinister underlying plot emerges.

Some of you may remember that I broke down this film's trailer a few months back in preparation for its release. In the time since, I've eagerly awaited Shark Night in hopes that it could fall into the category of "so bad, it's good." Ladies and gentlemen, I can honestly say that Shark Night nearly completely fulfilled all of the hopes and desires that I took with me into the theater.

Before I delve into my full review, I'm going to answer the questions I posed in the aforementioned trailer breakdown, so we can see how good my analytical skills actually are:

1. Is it just me, or does every movie involving a group of college co-eds going on vacation tend to take a turn towards disaster?
It seems like it, and Shark Night is no exception. 

2. Wait, there's sharks in a lake? Does that even make sense?
This is actually explained within the storyline. Although it's a ridiculous explanation, I give the writers credit for actually addressing it. 

3. Will this film achieve the same amount of success as 2010's Piranha 3D?
I'm gonna go out on a limb (read: sarcasm) and say that it won't. Piranha 3D was an unexpected critical success, whereas Shark Night has started off with some less-than-stellar reviews. Word of mouth won't benefit this flick. 

4. Will this film tribute Jaws or rip it off?
In the first twenty minutes of the film, I was a little worried that we'd essentially be getting a kill-by-kill remake of Jaws, but my fears were quickly subdued when I realized we'd be facing an altogether different beast: a horrendous film. Still, it's impossible to make a movie about sharks without having some comparisons to that iconic 1975 film.

 5. Can a 21st-century horror film make it through its run-time without involving torture?
I think they can, but Shark Night isn't capable. It adds a very strange twist to this story, but for one scene, it makes it all the more brilliant. 

6. The black dude dies first.
I actually have to say I've been proven wrong. While of the college co-eds, the black dude does get attacked first, he isn't the first to die. Does he make it to the final credits? Well, let's not talk crazy here...

And now for my actual review. I'm going to start with the acting, which was, for the most part, atrocious. Paxton and Milligan were awful as our leads, never giving me any reason to care for their characters. Milligan never once showed any real emotion, and Paxton held the same look on her face for the film's entire run-time. We do have some comically bad performances from the likes of the aforementioned Leonard and Donal Logue, who plays the film's sheriff. While I realize the cast was probably a slave to a poorly-written script, a good actor would find a way to bring out the best in a mediocre screenplay. I can't say anyone does that here.

Now, for the screenplay. It would be bad enough if we were just given a story in which random different species of sharks happened to appear in a land-locked lake, but these guys take it even farther and add a torture element to the entire scenario. If you're not in the mood for some spoilers (although I'm pretty sure they're evident in the trailer), you might want to stop reading now. Essentially, we're getting a couple of rednecks who capture sharks and place them in the saltwater lake, fitting them with video cameras so that they can record their every movement. Then, they find unsuspecting victims and get them into the water so that they can essentially create a snuff film when the shark kills its prey. Their whole plan is to sell the snuff films to make massive amounts of money. They're justification for why this would be profitable is screenwriting gold (in a "so bad, it's good" sort of way), so I can't quite give you that little tidbit. However, that little reveal made this film an entirely enjoyable experience all on its own.

While it starts off a bit slow, Shark Night does manage to pick up some steam in the second half of the film. However, it's not terror and thrills that are coming our way; rather, it's a steady steam of gut-wrenching laughter that's sure to keep you entertained until the closing credits. Once we received that aforementioned reveal, I couldn't keep my laughter contained any longer and found myself at least mildly chuckling until film's end. If you can go into Shark Night with the mindset that it's going to be horrendous, I think you're much better off. Go in looking for the comedy rather than the terror. I'm sure you'll be entertained.

Movie Review SummaryGrade: F
1.5 Thumbs Up

Addition to Rankings
Worst All-Time: #92

2011, Chris Carmack, David R Ellis, Donal Logue, Dustin Milligan, horror, Joel David Moore, Joshua Leonard, Katharine McPhee, movie review, Sara Paxton, Shark Night, Sinqua Walls, and more:

Relevant to: SHARK NIGHT + thriller