This review was originally written for Flickering Myth.
Dolph vs Shark.
As someone who appreciates a bit of Dolph I figured there might be something here for me. Afterall, Dolph as the hero with bull sharks as is enemies? It’s silly but could be enjoyable.
Turns out that the enemy in this film is not a shark. It’s actually the marketing and how it doesn’t reflect the film at all.
Once the film ended I went into the options and found the trailer. The footage was indeed all from the film but it was structured in such a way that it presented a very different story. One full of Dolph and how he’s going to deal with his past mistakes. It was actually a pretty good trailer.
That isn’t what we get though. We get lots of ‘bwaaaaaammmmmmhhhhhh’, a lot of time looking at bikinis and some completely shocking CGI. The fins looks fake, the shark themselves look rubbery a lot of the time and there are several occasions where the swimmers have clearly been filmed in a swimming pool and then placed over stock footage of shallow water.
I’m not surprised though as the film is rather oddly far more concerned about the relationships between the characters rather than the gore. Characters over action? Usually if you’ve cast an action star of any sort, especially one you may have blown the budget on, you’d want to them to actually be active. Despite this attention shown to the inhabitants of the story it’s overall a very mixed bag. Story points get picked up and then forgotten. Even when they are remembered it doesn’t seem as though anyone was sure what to do with them.
The king of this genre is Jaws. It expertly built up characters and tension whilst giving us what we wanted in attacks. Shark Lake doesn’t learn any lessons from it and is remarkably tension free. It’s just so pedestrian in it’s build up; I almost expected a mocking ‘dur dur’ to kick in. Instead I got more ‘bwaaammmhhh’. Further compounding this feeling are the odd editing choices that left me wondering if the film has skipped and I’d missed something.
You might think I’m hating on Shark Lake. I guess I am. It disappointingly doesn’t live up to its premise but kudos is deserved for trying to make meaningful character relationships. The sharks aren’t set up as enemies either. Despite some factual inaccuracies it does stick up for them, arguing that they aren’t malicious and are just doing what they’ve evolved to do. Ultimately it’s just the humans fault for going in the water.
I’ve seen far worse films but Shark Lake isn’t great. It’s not bad enough for me to say ‘don’t watch it’; you just need to be aware of what to expect.