Very very long term readers of ISCFC may vaguely remember our four rules of shark movies, which were roughly as follows:
- There’s a beach event which can’t possibly be cancelled
- One scene where the cast are stood on a boat as it goes to the final confrontation, all determined-looking
- One character needs to be an idiot, to drive things along
- Sharks be super-powered
Sadly, it appears we’ll have to retire them, as “Malibu Shark Attack” only really has no. 4 (in the shape of the Goblin Shark). Cleverly, it’s replaced all that stuff represented by points 1 to 3 with…nothing! Hurrah, SyFy Channel, you’ve done it again, by producing something that looks like a movie but has had all the fun and excitement removed. You know we like low-budget shark movies too (“Ghost Shark” and “Sand Shark” are both excellent), but this is a stinker.
Let’s see if I can sum up this thrill-ride. Two locations – a lifeguard station (and surrounding beach, giving them the opportunity to repeat the same footage of an admittedly very attractive young lady in a black bikini turning over, approximately a dozen times) and a nearby building site. Two groups – lifeguards and builders. Head lifeguard (Peta Wilson, from the original TV “La Femme Nikita”) and head builder are a couple; head lifeguard used to go out with the busted Matthew Fox lookalike lifeguard. Then there’s Dull Lifeguard and Cute But Nasty Beach Girl and their will-they-won’t-they; and two other couples (but they all get eaten so I don’t need to worry about them too much). An earthquake causes a tsunami, which disturbs the deep-sea habitat of the Goblin Sharks, so while the wave is destroying great swathes of California, the two locations above, right on the sea-front, are left flooded but otherwise okay, with a bunch of hungry sea creatures wanting to get to them.
One would think or hope that a group of lifeguards in an area susceptible to earthquakes, flooding and so on would have a basic understanding of what to do in such a situation. Of course, that would rely on the scriptwriter doing research, and not just assuming, “they’d behave like a guy with no training other than scriptwriting would in this instance, right?” Not a single one of them has much of an instinct for self-preservation, much less helping others in a catastrophic flood / shark attack, so our sharp-toothed friends have a pretty easy time of it. Well, they eventually kick ass, thanks to a chainsaw and other makeshift weapons, but they have to otherwise this would be even flatter and more boring than it already is.
There’s just no tension in this movie, at all. At the beginning, when the alarm starts sounding, everyone just sits there on the beach and carries on with their day – even after the clearly panicked lifeguards have screamed through their megaphones for people to clear the damn area! The music is an awful attempt to ape “Jaws”, and the lack of locations really doesn’t help.
Far worse than the lack of tension is the lack of any common sense. This manages to trump even the average SyFy movie for stupidity, because it comes at you from both angles- the way the characters are written, and the nuts and bolts of this movie’s “world” (yes, I appreciate this is more thought than they deserve). One of the shark fodder is about to get his PhD in Marine Biology, despite telling us via his his fiancée (also a PhD Marine Biology student) that he started off with a degree in Theatre Arts. There’s no way they’d let him convert from one to the other, surely? There’s firing bullets into the water, when Mythbusters has taught us that all you need is about 18 inches of water and you can stop an elephant gun. What else? Oh yes, the builders don’t leave because Head Builder is worried about his investment. He’s building on an incredibly expensive piece of property but doesn’t have insurance? There’s the way the flimsy lifeguard shack survives the tsunami completely unscathed; or indeed, the way that Busted Matthew Fox (BMF) gets on the roof (by going out through the floor and swimming round…when the roof has a damn hole in it he could have just climbed through!) There’s the way the goblin sharks (which aren’t extinct, by the way) appear to prefer to hunt the lifeguards rather than eat one of the no-doubt hundreds of lovely blood-soaked bodies floating in the water. They’re out there for a solid 12 hours, maybe more, and in this extraordinarily wealthy part of LA, no-one even drives past and says “we’ll be back to rescue you later!” When they do find a boat, rather than head inland, where there’s likely to be land, they head out into deeper water, where there’s sharks. There’s the way that no-one mentions that BMF used to be a Navy SEAL until ten minutes before the end; then the way that his extensive training has no bearing on the end of the movie at all.
And so on, and so on. I’m going to have to spoil the ending, so flip to the next paragraph if you don’t want things ruined! At the end, all three parts of the love triangle survive, and neither man is shown to be an asshole (well, the lifeguard is obviously cold and distant and would be a terrible boyfriend, but that might just be his acting). So, in a shocker, while indulging in a little “haha all our friends are dead”, Peta Wilson says “”You both went to preschool? Did you learn how to share your toys?” It’s a rare movie which ends with the woman suggesting an MMF threesome, it must be said.
Welcome back, spoiler avoiders. It’s not so much that it’s bad (although it is), it’s just really boring. It evidently bored director David Lister enough that he never made another movie again; although writer Keith Shaw is a more dependable hand (“Ice Road Terror”, for one), so he has less of an excuse for making something this dull. Avoid, unless you’re a movie reviewing idiot determined to watch every cheap shark movie ever.
Rating: thumbs down