'Shark Night' is really a love story; well two love stories actually. Nick (Dustin Milligan) has the hots for Sara (Sara Paxton). She's everything a young college guy could want: blonde, hot body, and a gigantic lake house secluded on an island in the middle of a shark-infested saltwater lake. The other love story is about two deranged hillbillies, but we'll get to that in a second.
It's never a great prospect to be the first hot lady on the scene when the movie involves numerous shark attacks. Sorry honey, but all that skimpy bathing suit is doing is calling sharks from far and wide to imitate the opening scene of 'Jaws.' An unnamed hottie is ripped side to side in the water as something sinister chomps on her underparts. And so starts 'Shark Night,' which actually goes through the day too, but who really notices details like that right?
Sara has invited her group of pretty college friends to her lake house. This is usually where I'd explain the various characters and their motives, but these kids seem to be devoid of anything other than the mantra of "Let's PARTAAAAY!" So a quick list of names should do; Beth (Katherine McPhee), Gordon (Joel David Moore), Malik (Sinqua Walls), Blake (Chris Zylka), Maya (Alyssa Diaz) and Nick join Sara for their soon to be blood-soaked vacation (well, this is a PG-13 movie so it's more like blood-basted vacation).
Let's cut right to the chase because the movie sure doesn't. We're inundated by montages of boat races capped off with pop songs as the group of college kids skim across the lake in their boat. Twenty-seven minutes! That's how long it takes before the first actual shark sighting. Even then it's a phony CGI-looking shark that looks about as realistic as a plastic bath toy.
Of course the black guy gets eaten first, right? Malik gets chomped up as fast as they arrive to the island. At that point it's hard to tell if the movie is being ironic or blatantly stupid. I prefer to think the latter, but maybe 'Shark Night' is much smarter than I give it credit for.
Enter the blood-crazed hillbillies that live by the lake (I take back any insinuation that this movie is smart). Dennis Crim (Chris Carmack) is a scuba diving instructor who has a checkered past involving Sara, which basically serves as the convenient plot device for why Dennis went all redneck nutso while she's been gone. Red (Joshua Leonard), I promise I'm not making this up, has filed down his front teeth to look like shark teeth (Gee I wonder if he's a bad guy). No really, he has. Yes, it's just as stupid as it sounds and yes he does attempt to bite someone with them later in the movie.
'Shark Night' may have been fun had it embraced the hilarity of 'Piranha 3D' and acted more tongue-in-cheek about the whole situation. But, when a one-armed Malik stomps down to the shore with a spear, after his girlfriend has become girl chum, spouting lines of dialogue like "West Baltimore rules! You take one of mine, I take one of yours," it's hard not to throw any blunt object you have laying around at your TV screen.
The explanation for why the sharks are in a land-locked lake is stupefying even by shark-horror spoof standards. The motives behind the hillbillies' plans are even more ridiculous. Making things even worse is this is a 2D release for a gimmicky 3D movie. Now you have to go through numerous scenes where crap flies at the screen for no reason.
'Shark Night' is full of chuckles and may be fun to take in while completely wasted, or with a group of equally inebriated friends. That's really the only thing the movie is good for.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Like I alluded to above, there's no 3D release for this movie that was initially marketed as 'Shark Night 3D' when it came out in theaters. The movie comes in a combo pack with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc alongside a disc for the movie's Digital Copy. It's all housed in a standard keepcase with matching slipcover. It's been coded for Region A use.
From the opening shot you can tell that the 1080p AVC-encoded video presentation of 'Shark Night' is going to be mediocre at best. As the camera follows the butt of the first hot girl in the movie you'll notice distinct banding around the edge of the picture. Banding continues to be a problem throughout, but isn't as noticeable as it is in the opening shot.
Colors and close-up detail are probably the best things about this. The greens of the surrounding Louisiana swamps, coupled with the blues of the sky offer well-saturated day time scenes. However, when the movie move on to the "night" portion of the title all bets are off. Blacks are pitifully flat and are usually tinged blue. There's one sequence in particular, when Blake is driving Malik to the hospital on a Sea-Doo where the blacks suck out every sort of detail while Blake sits in the middle of an obvious green screen slathered in a cyan murk. I wondered if this shot especially was an after effect of the intended 3D look in the theaters. Obviously the edges were artificially darkened so much that Blake would stick out like he was driving his Sea-Doo right at the audience. Here, in 2D, it looks like an absolute mess. Even one of the funniest moments of the film – (spoiler) when a great white bursts out of the water, flies through the air, and chomps down on Blake – is completely shrouded in crushing, unforgiving blacks.
Really, the only thing here that works is most of the well-lit daytime scenes. The nighttime scenes are just more of the same crushing black shadows, underdeveloped shadows and errant noise that obscure even more detail.
I personally hate sound designs like this. Chalk it up to filmmakers thinking a really loud bang equates to scaring the audience. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is loud, bombastic, and not the least bit fun. Where's the fun in getting your ears blasted out just because the director or sound designer wants to emphasize a cheap jump scare? What's even worse is when they pound out a big "Dunnnnnnn!" to prematurely frighten the audience, giving the illusion of something happening when nothing is.
LFE is constantly equipped and ready to rumble. Explosions, gun shots or crashing boats, it doesn't matter what it is, there is more than enough bass here to rumble the floor. The best actual sound design comes at the beginning when the girl is thrown from side to side as her screams for help seamlessly travel from on speaker to the other without a hiccup. After that it's a slam-bang low-end fest of jump scares and unoriginal sound design.
Move along, there's nothing to see here. 'Shark Night' is a feeble attempt by Fox to cash in on the 'Piranha 3D' success. There's nothing funny, tongue-in-cheek or campy about 'Shark Night,' it's just bad. With subpar video and average audio this doesn't even seem like a movie someone should pick up for a bored night at home. Just skip it and don't bother.