While flipping past the newer Roger Corman films on SyFy, I’ll sometimes wonder to myself what the outcome of a movie like Sharktopus would be if it had a bigger budget and better cast. Hollywood rarely gives these types of films the opportunity to shine, but every once in a while you’ll see a movie go all out like Piranha 3D.
Shark Night tries to follow a similar path and ends up being an entertaining film for lovers of b-movie horror, but disappointing for anyone else. While this film has a strong start and decent cast, the movie is hampered by a PG-13 rating and a script that fails to rise to the occasion.
Shark Night follows a group of 7 friends who visit a lakehouse for some rest and relaxation. They barely get a chance to settle in before sharks start picking them off one by one. After the initial attacks, the remaining survivors fight to stay alive and uncover the reason why sharks are inhabiting the lake in the first place.
I’ll often talk about a failed film having an interesting premise and this movie is no different. On paper, the idea of multiple sharks in a lake killing girls in bikinis sounds like a good combination for the horror crowd. Unfortunately, this movie is held back by its PG-13 rating. Not only are the kills muted, but the whole movie feels as if it had been edited for television.
You can see how Shark Night wants to break out of its PG-13 shackles, but never has a chance to show you the extremes that it could go to. Because of this, death scenes and conflict that would have held your interest in an R-rated version fall flat and the movie just coasts through its 90 minute running time.
It’s a shame because the cast is likable and the movie does a good job of building up these characters in the first 30 minutes. Sara Paxton has a charm and screen presence that really makes her stand out in this film. The same can be said for Joel David Moore, who tends to play the same role in most movies he’s in, but he’s still fun to watch.
In terms of the story, the film has a couple of interesting twists, but again, the PG-13 rating prevents the surprises and death scenes from being anything truly entertaining. There are also a number of pacing issues that slow this movie down to a crawl once it is revealed how the sharks got into the lake.
The Blu-ray release for this movie includes multiple bonus features, but nothing that is a must-see. There's a featurette on the use of CG and animatronic sharks in the film, along with a Shark Night's Survival Guide, quick jump-to-kill feature, and a feature on Shark Night director David Ellis. Probably the most interesting/unusual item you’ll find is the rap video the cast shot, which is included after the credits of the film.
If you go into this movie expecting the next Jaws, you definitely have the wrong expectations. But, if you’re a fan of Roger Corman creature features and are looking for a similar film with a better cast and more polish, you should find yourself having fun. Shark Night may have never become a masterpiece, but it’s a shame that aiming for a PG-13 rating prevented this from being a true cult classic. Certain horror fans will have fun with this, but thinking about what could have been will probably be more interesting than what you actually get.
Film Score: 1.5/5 Disc Score: 2.5/5