Raiders Of The Lost Shark (2015) Review

This film will be ridiculed by top men. Top. Men.

Sharks are fascinating creatures, worthy of protection and study, their place in the oceanic food chain more complex and precious than we realised. But we’re not here for a nature documentary. No, no, no. We’re here to revel in the myth of the shark as nature’s soulless, remorseless, evil, killing machine and sensationalist budget movies’ bogeyman of choice. Sharks have a long history of being movie bad guys, often henchmen until Spielberg’s 1978 masterpiece put them firmly into the top billing bracket. Unfortunately, since “Jaws” – with a few exceptions – those starring roles have not been kind to our fishy friends. Welcome…to Craggus’ Shark Weak and, unfortunately, welcome to “Raiders Of The Lost Shark”.

Given Spielberg put shark movies firmly on the map, it’s only appropriate that we open things with this trashy low-budget offering that riffs off another Spielberg classic. It opens with a tongue in cheek warning that the following is a true story only to cap off the warning with ‘Just messing with you’. It’s the closest you’ll get to genuine wit for the next hour and eleven minutes.

“Raiders Of The Lost Shark”’s promise of a tale of toothy terror as four friends set out by boat for an idyllic vacation on a private, remote island where, unbeknownst to them (but knownst to us), a weaponized shark has escaped from a top-secret military lab nearby. For reasons best known to the surprisingly plentiful ichthyologists who specialise in dicking around with sharks, this shark has been genetically engineered with hate in its blood, programmed to hunt any human within range. There’s not even a hint of the ‘whoops, we were trying to do something good and accidentally created a monster’ trope here. No, siree, this fish was bred to fuck shit up.

Unfortunately, what’s mostly fucked up is basic filmmaking in this short, cheap and profoundly dumb pseudo home movie. It’s hard to discard the idea that they came up with the title pun and then figured out a story they could afford to make which even vaguely connected to it. Nothing is raided as far as I can see and the only thing lost is seventy-one minutes of your life you’ll never get back and possibly some of your will to live.

There’s zero logic to the script which set the lake on an island that can apparently only be reached by specifically chartering a boat yet innumerable people seem to wander onto the scrubby shore of this supposedly forbidden and heavily guarded island but it’s hardly a surprise seeing as the lake itself seems to be less than 50m across. Mind you, this is also a research lab where going into the water is specifically prohibited but everybody, including the security guards, wears swimming costumes under their clothes. The script is sub-first draft quality, with dialogue written like the makers had never heard real people talk to each other ever and the acting is cheesy porn quality at best, without the payoff (although the film does include crusty old seamen).

The ‘special effects’ are even worse;  blink and you’ll miss ’em shots of the CGI shark which never even remotely interacts with the environment around it mixed with mismatched stock footage. Things certainly don’t improve when the shark abruptly develops the ability to fly for some reason.

The kills are entirely bloodless as the shark merrily chomps its way through the surprisingly large cast (the credits take a full 15% of the already brief running time) without building any drama whatsoever.

It lacks the wit and invention that can sometimes make micro-budget features work although you have to respect the frugality and creativity with which some shots were put together. It’s certainly a ballsy move to script a scene of a shark destroying a plane when you can’t possibly afford to show even the merest hint of it.

Poorly edited and badly plotted; staring at the egregiously misleading poster for the whole of the running time would probably provide more entertainment. As a bunch of friends goofing about and making a gag movie for themselves, it’s barely passable although I’m sure they had a good laugh making it. As a feature film intended for an audience, though, “Raiders Of The Lost Shark” is borderline insulting. There are, here and there, vague hints that it might be knowingly bad but if it is a joke, the joke falls completely flat.