Bad CGI Sharks (2019) Review

Close the beaches or the Bad CGI Sharks might get you

There are great shark movies. And there are bad shark movies. And then there are great bad shark movies. Opening this year’s Shark Weak 3, we take a look at a forthcoming movie that definitely falls into that latter category. Reminiscent of Shark Weak 2’s winner of the coveted and totally not made up ‘Golden Shark’ award, “House Shark”, “Bad CGI Sharks” sets out to deliver exactly what the title promises, with knowing wit and tongue-in-toothy-cheek attitude.

Two estranged brothers must find a way to overcome their differences and survive the night as their childhood shark movie script comes to poorly rendered CGI life before their eyes.

Straight out of the gate, “Bad CGI Sharks” sets out its metatextual stall with a weird yet whimsical framing device, which calls back to the likes of “The Outer Limits” and “The Twilight Zone”, as we’re introduced to Bernardo (Matteo Molinari), our quasi-mystical narrator who’ll pop up regularly on both sides of the fourth wall. To whet our appetites, he shares with us a deliberately titillating in media res from the movie’s middle act as a sexy lingerie-clad lady succumbs to a shark attack in her bedroom. Before he pulls us back to the present and explains the movie’s McGuffin, a magical clapperboard muse which brings would-be scriptwriters’ works to life to better inform their art.

Clearly a labour of love for its three principle filmmakers, Matthew Ellsworth, Jason Ellsworth and Matteo Molinari, “Bad CGI Sharks” is a hugely imaginative, knowingly surreal and frugally funny film, unlike almost anything you’ll have seen before. As much a love letter to childhood dreams of filmmaking as to bad shark movies, “Bad CGI Sharks” revels in the tropes and travesties of the genre.

Yes, the shark is archly poorly animated, yet it takes real care to get it just the right kind of bad for the film to work. That’s the joke. Yes, the script is punctuated by an occasionally crude and immature sense of humour which sniggers at period blood or the grisly details of sex-change surgery but again, that’s the joke. These are two brothers who are dealing with the consequences of a script they wrote in the wild, heady days of puberty coming back to plague their now grown-up lives; a metaphor for Matt’s reconciliation with his arrested development older brother Jason.

The guerrilla filmmaking approach makes the most of the suburban Californian locations and there are visual gags aplenty as the sharks wreak havoc through the night. It’s all good, goofy, breathless fun with more running away from wonky monsters than a Scooby Doo marathon and while the performances are occasionally a little self-conscious, the cast is so darn likeable you don’t really mind.
Short on gore, but rich in heart and ideas, this is a pretty good silly shark movie by and for lovers of bad shark movies. In amongst the sophomoric humour, there’s some sharper satire and even some biting social commentary. Some bad shark movies are a chore to watch, but “Bad CGI Sharks” is not one of them and the makers have used an abundance of imagination to ensure the limits of their resources aren’t apparent on screen. It’s not so bad it’s good, it’s actually pretty good good. This is one big fish you need to catch when it’s released this August!

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