Nick is a slightly nerdy college guy who’s committed to working hard on his premed studies. But he secretly has a wicked crush on the lovely Sara. So when he gets an invite to join a group of co-eds vay-caying at Sara’s island retreat in the middle of a Southern lake, well, how can he say no?
The gang that gathers for the weekend trip is an unlikely amalgamation. It includes Nick’s gaming-geek roommate, Gordon, jock pal Malik and his Latino girlfriend (Maya), nude male model Blake and tattoo-gal Beth. But the only one Nick has eyes for is the petite, blonde, mysterious and eminently gaze-worthy Sara. (Sigh.)
Sara’s Louisiana island paradise hideaway is pretty impressive too. From the mansion-like accommodations to the sun-washed poolside to the surrounding miles of bayou lake that screams powerboating, skiboarding fun, this trip could be one of the best decisions Nick’s ever made.
Of course there are a few niggling things he finds a bit bothersome. Somehow, even though they’re on the power grid, there isn’t any kind of phone line or even cellphone reception to be found in this reclusive place. There are some redneck types floating about who are crude and roughly aggressive—especially the one with the teeth filed to razor points. And the local sheriff seems to be a little too laid-back and beer-swilling to be very dependable.
Oh, and there’s one more little thing.
The lake is full of killer sharks.
As disaster strikes in various human or shark forms, the young vacationers generally rally to one another’s defense. And Nick ends up being a standout in this area. Though the others sort of discount him as a brainy loser, he repeatedly advocates smart choices, puts his premed skills to good use and lays his own life on the line. An example: When Sara is trapped below water in a shark cage, Nick braves the deadly gnashing sharks, fights off human predators and fills his lungs with air so he can dive down to give Sara mouthfuls of replenishing oxygen.
Malik early on voices his devotion and love for his girlfriend, talking about marrying her. Then, injured, he sacrifices his life to let a pal get away.
The sheriff laughingly asks Sara, “So, are these some of your Bible class buddies?”
This kind of film is obviously geared for as much exploitation as its rating will allow. And there’s scads of well-toned flesh on display throughout as the girls swim, sun and run around in skimpy bikinis. They wear swimsuits, short shorts and skintight spandex.
Two scenes go beyond that: Fully nude, Blake models for an art class. He flexes his bare backside in something of a seductive wink directed toward one of the female artists. Maya and Beth, meanwhile, take off their tops, and we see them from the back and side as they slip into string bikinis.
A girl is threatened and forced to strip down to her bra and panties. (The camera leers at what she exposes.) Beth drops her shorts in a bait shop bathroom and sits on the toilet while an attendant eagerly watches via closed-circuit camera. Blake sprays suntan lotion down the crotch of his low-slung swimsuit. (The implication is that he’s preparing to lay out nude.) A guy joins a girl in the water and flirtatiously removes and tosses aside her bikini top. (She stays hidden beneath the surface.) One of the island’s bad guys openly ogles Beth’s exposed cleavage, even shining a flashlight on it and later grabbing her and baring his sharpened teeth at her neck.
These sharks spend the best years of their lives (it seems to last that long) lunging at the camera, battering small boats and leaping out of the water just to show off their gaping maws of buzz saw teeth. Repeatedly we see screaming youths attacked, snapped back and forth and eventually dragged down into a churning pool of water and blood.
Malik comes up out of the water with his ravaged right arm missing—left as a bloody stump—bitten off above the elbow. Another scene features a school of small “cookie cutter” sharks that first rip chunks of flesh from bloody fish heads that are tossed in the water. Then they tear into a nearly naked female who’s thrown in soon after.
One (human) villain shoots a guy in the shoulder, sending him tumbling into the shark-infested waters. Another cuts someone’s leg and tortures him by lowering and raising him in and out of a pool of tiger sharks. A girl stabs her attacker in the chest with a small knife. A guy throws a huge hunting knife into someone’s torso. Malik goes after a hammerhead with a harpoon, plunging it repeatedly into the thrashing creature. A shark’s brains are blown out by a powerful shark prod. And a bad guy reports turning a girl into a “blood smoothie.” A man is set on fire.
One f-word and about 10 s-words. Other crudities include handfuls each of “h‑‑‑,” “a‑‑,” “d‑‑n” and “b‑‑ch.” We hear “b‑‑tard” and the n-word. God’s and Jesus’ names are misused a dozen or so times. God’s is combined with “d‑‑n” once or twice. A few crude references are made to male and female body parts. Sara flips someone the bird.
The partying friends drink beer around the pool and while motoring on the lake. We see them buy a supply of vodka and Red Bull. Gordon and Beth play beer pong. The sheriff guzzles beer while on duty and later swills a glass of harder booze. One of the rednecks smokes a cigarette and announces, “My name’s Red. I’m an alcoholic.” We see him prove it later on.
Nick and Sara’s dog both pass out after drinking drugged soup from a thermos. There’s a reference to Xanax.
Rude comments are made about Maya’s ethnicity. Dennis covers Sara in bloody chum. [Spoiler Warning] It’s revealed that cameras have been attached to the sharks so that gawkers can “enjoy” their vicious carnage via a “hard-core s‑‑‑” online reality program.
Let’s not swim in circles here: If you’re dying to get over to the mall to see a film about bikini babes getting gnawed on by sharks—directed by the same guy who hit us over the head with The Final Destination and Snakes on a Plane—then you’re probably not reading this review.
Since you are reading, I’m going to assume you didn’t know much about the movie before you started in on this prose. So here’s the hazardous low-down: Shark Night mixes a boatful of stereotypical, swimsuit-clad, boozing-it-up collegians with a couple of land-shark ruffians and a lake populated by a potpourri of razor-toothed shark species.
I suppose you could say there are a couple of positives worth noting: There’s one heroic guy, one duck-worthy explosion scene and a nice pettable dog. But the rest of the material is a lame “kill the co-eds” mess dribbled over tepid dialogue and formulaic predictability.
Let me put it this way: Sharks might get really excited over a bucketful of bloody chum—no matter how many times they’ve gulped it down before. But most humans would likely not want to empty their wallets for the “thrill” of sticking their faces in that same bucket—with or without a pair of 3-D glasses.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.