'Shark Night' Review: Almost the Worst of the Year

When movies aren’t shown to critics in advance, there’s usually a reason. A possible explanation is that a movie is so awful that the studio behind it believes that critics will only say terrible things about it. That seems to be the case for the movie “Shark Night 3D,” which unsuccessfully tries the replicate the formula of “Piranha 3D.” When I saw “Shark Night” recently, I thought it was the worst movie of 2011 but after watching the horrendous new film “Creature,” I’ve changed my mind. “Shark Night” is now the second worst movie of the year.

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The first scene of “Shark Night” tries to replicate the memorable “Jaws” opening. However, unlike that classic shark movie, “Shark Night” has the subtlety of a man hitting a board over your head. It completely lacks suspense and excitement. While “Jaws” was imaginative and exciting in its first scene, “Night” is underwhelming and tiresome.

As the story gets underway, a young woman named Sara (Sara Paxton) brings her friends to a lakeside home that she hasn’t visited in three years. The group of unremarkable friends settle in and decide to visit the nearby lake. Shortly thereafter, one of the characters is viciously attacked by a shark and soon enough, several of the friends are attacked by a group of super-powerful sharks.

Last year, “Piranha 3D” took a familiar concept and made it fun and refreshing. The story was full of cliches but the cast was fun to watch and the story was memorable. The cast in “Shark Night 3D” is so mediocre that “Dancing with the Stars” would reject them outright. Two of the main characters are played by Dustin Mulligan, who was booted off of the show “90210” after one season, and Chris Carmack, who is known for creating an unremarkable character on “The O.C.” While “Piranha” offered up Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd and Steve McQueen’s grandson, “Shark Night” offers up a cast of easily-forgettable unknowns.

If the acting is bad, the script is even worse. After one of Sara’s friends is attacked and bleeding, one character turns to a medical student and says “You’re the only one who knows what to do,” swatting her eyes to encourage him to save the young man’s life. If that isn’t bad in itself, the injured character loses his arm but then decides to fight against one of the sharks himself. The bleeding one-armed man then proceeds to walk into the water hoping to entice the shark into battle.

If sharks only ate intelligent people, these characters would be safe wherever they swam.

It isn’t enough to say that “Shark Night” is a bad film. It’s an atrocious one. There are so many plot holes that it could be studied in film school for what not to do. When you think the movie has reached its worst moment, it reinvents itself and throws in a moral lesson about people that enjoy watching shark attacks. Oh, brother.

As with other films like this, the “heroes” always survive despite making stupid decisions. As the story nears its climax, one of the heroes jumps into the water to swim to a nearby boat. While other people get eaten within seconds of entering the water, this character can take a leisurely swim without being attacked at all. I know that the “good guys” will inevitably survive despite their stupidity but this movie brings that concept to a new low.

In a word, “Shark Night” bites.

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