Far from the high concept carcharodon carry-on of the likes of “6-Headed Shark Attack” or “Sharkenstein”, “Shark Lake” sets out to position itself as a gritty and grounded shark thriller. A gritty and ground shark thriller which begins with Clint Gray (Dolph Lundgren), a rare animal smuggler, going on the run with a bull shark in the back of a van. Yep.
The van crashes into the lake and the smuggler is arrested, having abandoned his infant daughter during the raid. The arresting officer adopts the child and five years pass…during which nothing happens.
Then, abruptly, the shark in the lake starts killing people, starting with a fatal attack on a camper standing in ankle-deep water, although it’s initially chalked up to a bear attack. Everyone plays this with such dedicated earnestness that it’s almost endearing if it weren’t for the fact the film itself is so ludicrously nonsensical. There are so many plot holes surrounding not only how the shark came to be in the lake (was it wearing a seatbelt in the wildly careering van?) but also how it managed to go unnoticed/ undetected for five whole years while feeding enough to apparently survive. Now, if you think I’m being unfair holding this film to a more rigid standard of realism than I asked of, say, “House Shark” then I get where you’re coming from but the movie started it! If you’re going to set out to be serious and gritty then you’d better get your facts if not straight, then at least lined up in the same direction.
The acting is abysmal across the board with star name – but conspicuously not the lead character – Dolph Lundgren looking bored and obligated to be there, perhaps paying off some recent bills. The lead character is actually a police detective played with bland neutrality by Sara Lane who spends less time fending off fins and more time clashing with the excruciatingly bad supporting cast, including the Sheriff whose entire character can be summed up as obnoxious idiot. There’s also a milquetoast Matt Hooper in the person of ichthyologist Peter Mayes whose obsession with fish mating practices suggests the detective should stop investigating the lake and put him on some kind of register alongside Troy McClure. Worst of all, though, is a laughably unbelievable Steve Irwin-cypher allegedly employed by the BBC to hunt down the lake’s rogue shark. Just hearing his “English” accent will have you writing angrily to The Daily Mail demanding your licence fee be refunded.
By the time the third act twist is delivered, your eyes will have rolled so often and so hard you might have sprained your eyesight but despite all of its tedium, shoddy effects, wooden acting and outright stupidity, it’s still kind of watchable and far from the worst movie I’ve watched this #SharkWeak.