Subtitles? Oh cool – this is a Japanese monster shark movie. We’ve seen what they make of giant atomic dinosaur lizards, so I can’t wait to see what they make of a giant killer shark. Except we’ll just have to – wait, that is – because most of the brief 69 minute running time is spent on dry land with infuriatingly badly framed ‘found footage’.
On the coast off of a private beach on a tropical island, a huge shark lurks in the water, waiting for its prey. When young college students Miki and Mai arrive on the island, they are unable to find anywhere to stay for their break and find themselves hopelessly lost. Hopelessly lost, that is until a handsome young man offers them room and board at his nearby hotel. Content with their new lodgings, the girls spend some time there happily filming each other, using the video cameras offered by the hotel to guests. But when Miki discovers material filmed by a previous guest, events start to take a sinister turn.
It may be less than ten years old but this weird little film looks much, much older, like some kind of oddball arthouse experiment from the early nineties. It teases a run of the mill opening kill before switching to a weird, abstract surreal montage involving the moon, an eye, rain on the sea, a TV showing static and a window. For a moment I wondered if I was watching the actual video from “The Ring”. Another half hour into the movie and ‘seven days’ wasn’t anywhere near soon enough for death to claim me.
It’s really more of a Japanese “Psycho” rip-off horror than a shark movie. The bizarre gimmick of complimentary hotel camcorders reveals footage of previous visitors and some (apparent) murders and it’s not clear whether they’re tasteless pranks or just evidence left behind by really careless hoteliers/ serial killers. For the longest time, it appears the shark might actually be metaphorical, despite the occasional electric guitar riffing on John Williams’ iconic “Jaws” theme.
There’s plenty of bikini-clad frolicking in the movie, in a vain attempt to distract from the lack of anything else happening. It occasionally teases actual boobs but it delivers less than it does in the shark department. There’s finally a glimpse of fin around the 40-minute mark but it could still be a dream sequence. By this point, you’ll be questioning whether there is actually a shark in this movie (which also goes by the alternative title of “Jaws In Japan”)? When the shark does, finally, appear you might wish it hadn’t. It’s almost all worth it for comedic value, in which it rivals “The Last Shark”, but let me save you a lost hour. Feast your eyes on this:
Unless shaky-cam footage of bikini-clad boobs, baffled boredom and bizarre ambient filmmaking are your thing, then “Psycho Shark” is definitely one to avoid.