Behind every terrible shark movie, there is a great shark movie being ruthlessly strip-mined. With “Frenzy” (or “Surrounded” – neither of which adequately describe this cinematic cloud of squaline egesta) that film is “The Shallows”.
When a group of ‘extreme adventure travel’ vloggers are stranded by the most unconvincing CGI plane crash you’ll ever have seen, their troubles are just beginning. Not only are they being mercilessly hunted by equally unconvincing CGI sharks but with supplies running low, they find themselves at the mercy of what may very well be one of the stupidest scripts ever to make it in front of a camera.
Now I’ve seen a lot of shark movies and enjoyed most of them, good and bad, but this is just something else. There’s no goofy high concept fun here, so the sharks are just great white sharks without explanation of their most un-great white-like pack hunting behaviour. The script is littered with clumsy and obvious dialogue, much like the ocean is littered with an improbably large amount of handily buoyant empty plastic containers after the plane crash. There’s a reliance on flashbacks to flesh out the fish fodder characters a bit more, but its barely enough to make us care about people who, by the point we learn much about them, are already fish food.
Character actions are arbitrary and illogical, pushed around by a story which needs to hit a certain number of kills and scares as if filling a quota, typified by a screenplay which has a character solemnly opine that everyone needs to stick together before immediately swimming off on their own. The characters themselves are vacuous and superficial except when clumsily expositing their ludicrously overwrought backstories. Having run out of its original character roster at about the two-thirds mark, the film finds itself forced to bring in a random pair of pleasure boaters just to pad out the running time. There’s no consistency or coherence to events here and while the filmmakers have an eye for a pretty shot, their attempts to convey a sense of environment and space are inept at best.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is so teeth-grindingly awful about “Frenzy”/ “Surrounded”. I’ve watched shark movies with worse acting, poorer scripts, and far worse effects but somehow this 2018 TV movie ends up being more stupid than the sum of its moronic parts. In all the shark movies I have encountered on my travels, “Frenzy” is the most…stupid.