After watching Piranha 3D on the big screen, I discovered that, although I am the most squeamish person in the audience when it comes to guns and feet (heres looking at you, Drive), if it’s fish-related I’m less bothered by dismembered body parts, floating eyeballs and geysers of boiling blood. Therefore, I clutched the promise of Shark Night 3D to me and headed in to the cinema to be shocked and disgusted and thrilled by sharks gorging on teenagers in 3D.
There were sharks and there were teenagers, there was also some 3D, but thanks to the 15 certificate, we get a fair amount of swearing and bikinis but not an awful lot of gore. The 3D was also largely unimaginative, unnecessary and even unnoticeable, although a couple of literally stand out moments did highlight that we could have been given so much more.
The plot could be written on the back of a crisp. A bunch of clever college students head out to ‘the island’ on a Louisiana lake to stay at the house of rich and beautiful Sara (Sara Paxton). Sara has not been home for three years. It’s not long before we learn that this could be something to do with local boy Dennis (Chris Cormack) and that scar down one side of his face. Sara brings with her a bunch of familiar characters, from swot Nick (Dustin Mulligan) and nerd Gordon (Joel David Moore) to athlete Malik (Sinqua Walls) and male model Blake (Chris Zylka). To be honest I couldn’t tell the other two girls apart – there was Maya (Alyssa Diaz), Malik’s intended, and Beth (Katharine McPhee). Of course, there’s also the hicky sheriff (Dinal Logue) and a redneck with shark teeth conveniently called Red (Joshua Leonard).
Before you can say ‘snap!’, one of these unlucky but very pretty teenagers has their arm bitten off and, in no time at all, you have a lake full of assorted shark species and some disarticulated teenagers.
If you’re a fan of Piranha 3D, which revelled and rejoiced in its 18 certificate and matched humour with disgusting, glorious gore, then you will be disappointed. Shark Night 3D promises much but despite all the creepy set-the-scene moments spent rushing through murky water or escaping ridiculously speedy finned brutes, there is no deliverance. Handicapped by the 15 certificate, there can be no laughable, shocking moments. It all falls a little flat and sinks to the bottom (like the leg or head that we’re not able to see). Even in the wonderful and immensely superior Jaws there was a little bit of bone crunching. Here, you have a few red bubbles and that’s it.
There are some ludicrously fun moments, especially towards the end and I certainly didn’t get bored, but it was all a little bit wet. The 3D was, for 90% of the film wasted and for the few moments when it showed promise it was let down by the camera’s need to pull away at the climax. It was never going to work.
A couple of things stood out for me. There was a fun and unusual driving scene near the beginning and the music was uplifting. The sharks were also good and mean. The humans were less convincing. I have learned one thing though. In the world of Shark Night 3D, pretty students taste the best.
I do want to give director David R Ellis credit for doing what he could with that kind of certificate and also for Snakes on a Plane, a film that I will defend to my dying breath.