Director: James Nunn
Cast: Holly Earl, Jack Trueman, Catherine Amy Hannay, Malachi Pullar-Latchman, Thomas Michael Flynn
Runtime: 1 hr 25 mins
Rating: NC16 (Violence and Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 2 June 2022
Synopsis: A group of spring-breakers are enjoying the weekend of a lifetime in Mexico. After a night spent partying on the beach until dawn, the friends steal a couple of jet skis to have some fun out at sea. But bravado and bad decisions lead to a terrifying head-on collision causing one of the jet skis to sink, leaving the other broken down and one of the friends badly injured. Alone and adrift two miles from land this is where the true horror begins…
Every now and then, some filmmaker will think that the world just cannot get enough of shark thrillers and therefore hope to contribute his fair share to the done-to-death genre. Few succeed with something that achieves cult status like ‘Jaws’ or even ‘Deep Blue Sea’, some will deliver mediocrely entertaining diversions like ’47 Meters Down’ or ‘The Meg’, and yet many others will simply see their attempts sink into the depths of ignominy.
Unfortunately for director James Nunn, ‘Shark Bait’ is destined to fall into the last category, no thanks to an underwhelming setup by TV writer Nick Saltrese. Whilst such movies no doubt thrive on the thrill of their set-pieces, Saltrese does his movie no favours by penning such a bare-bones narrative you’d wonder whether he had made it up on the set itself.
The ‘bait’ here comprises five spring breakers who on the last day of their holiday in Mexico decide to steal two jet skis and take them out to sea. Following a game of chicken on the waters, the quintet lose one of the jet skis, leaving just one to cling onto dear life and make it back to shore. Alas, that jet ski cannot seem to power up. To make matters worse, one of their company, Greg (Thomas Flynn), has his shin broken from the impact of the accident, and his profuse bleeding attracts the unwanted attention of a great white.
It is hardly surprising what happens to Greg by the time the first act is over. Among the other four, one of them, Tyler (Malachi Pullar-Latchman), spies a sailboat in the far horizon and attempts to get help, though again it is not unexpected how that turns out. Meanwhile, the Kansas good-girl Nat (Holly Earl), her boyfriend Tom (Jack Trueman) and buxomy bombshell Milly (Catherine Hannay) are made to contend not just with the latter two’s betrayal, but also the fact that Tom is a coward and Milly cannot swim. Again, no prizes for guessing who survives in the end, or who is the subject of a particularly gory kill.
Despite clocking in at an economical 87 minutes, there is barely enough material to fill up that amount of screen time, suggesting just how underdeveloped its premise ultimately is. Just as telling is how you’d be able to anticipate exactly how it will unfold, not only who lives and who gets killed, but also in what sequence that takes place. The fact that none of the characters are worthy of much sympathy only reinforces how little you’d bother about their respective fates, even and especially the one who is supposed to survive the ordeal at the end.
To Nunn’s credit, the kills are sufficiently exciting and even bloody, so those in it for the chomping will probably still have their lust for blood satiated. Yet seen against ’47 Meters Down’ and its sequel, both of which he was responsible for second unit work, there is nothing in the shark attacks here that surpasses that which he did in these other two films; in fact, we would even say because he is also responsible for the entire film that the action here pales in comparison.
Like we said at the start, ‘Shark Bait’ belongs in that category of shark thrillers which fade quickly into ignominy. There is nothing memorable about it, and those who do try it out will probably wish they had re-watched ‘The Meg’ or even ’47 Meters Down’ again. Our advice – don’t take the bait; there is little worth chewing on anyways.
(Just about the worst kind of shark thriller, the kind where you can expect not just who dies and who lives, but also in what sequence)
Review by Gabriel Chong