Shark Night 3D is set in Louisiana under the premise of college coeds spending a party weekend at a lake (swamp) house. You have your cast of usual suspects including the jock, the princess, the pretty frat boy, the serious student, the geeky wanna-be, the promiscuous girl, the local Barney Fife sheriff and backwoods locals. Feel like familiar territory? It is.
I am always forgiving of familiar territory and regurgitated story lines in any horror film and especially killer creature flicks. We are there to see the kill, the critter and the hot actors in nearly nothing; the plot is completely secondary. If the writer and director manage to weave in something interesting or original, it’s pure gravy. That said, there is no gravy in this film.
There are no big names in the film but all of the faces are familiar to some degree: Sara Paxton (Last House on the Left, Aquamarine), Dustin Milligan (Slither, Final Destination 3), Chris Carmack (various television appearance and bit movie roles), Katharine McPhee (The House Bunny), Chris Zylka (various television appearances but will be in the upcoming Piranha 3DD and The Amazing Spider-Man), Alyssa Diaz (The 9 Lives of Chloe King – TV), Joel David Moore (Bones – TV), Sinqua Walls (The Secret Life of the American Teenager – TV), Donal Logue (Charlie St. Cloud, Grounded for Life – TV, and many small movie roles) and Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project).
During their fun and games on the water, our intrepid partiers are attacked by sharks. No matter how they try to get help, or what method they use to escape, they are foiled time and again. How will they survive? Will they ever get help? And where are these sharks coming from? Is there a twist? Of course there is, but I’m not going to give it away. You’ll figure it out for yourself about half-way through the film. If you are an avid killer creature film lover, you’ll probably figure it out during the first 10 minutes.
One thing I did enjoy is that the sharks are not mutated. They are not being controlled with implants or chemicals. They are not prehistoric. These are normal sharks who are being tempted into attacking and feeding frenzies by normal methods and attraction to prey. A nice nod to the matriarch of shark films, Jaws. They may not be where they would naturally appear, but nothing about their actions are abnormal.
The 3D adds very little to the film. There are perhaps three or four shark-in-your-face moments that will make you jump, but otherwise the 3D is peripheral and not worth the extra $4 a ticket.
Shark Night 3D belongs on television, not the silver screen. That doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable if you like this kind of film (which I do), but if you are going to PG-13 a killer creature film, there is no reason for a theatrical release. The acting and special effects are a notch above what you would see on the SyFy Channel but still, if you cut away from the kill shot just to lure 14 year olds into the cinema, you probably risk the chance of losing your mature audience.