Shark Season (2020) Review

Shark Season’s undoubted lowlight is Michael Madsen’s literally phoned-in performance

SHARK SEASON (aka Shark Attack) bring Shark Weak 4 another cheap shark movie and another cheap, literally phoned-in, Michael Madsen performance.

When his daughter Sarah (Paige McGarvin) takes a modelling assignment, recent widower James (Michael Madsen) wishes her well. But Jason (Jack Pearson), the photographer and Sarah’s ex, has heard tell of a new atoll revealed by a recent storm so they take their kayaks and head out to this undiscovered territory to do the photoshoot instead, accompanied by Meghan (Juliana Destefano), Jason’s new boyfriend. However, as the tide turns, they find themselves trapped on the diminishing rocky outcrop as sharks patrol the water.

There’s a hamfisted attempt to give everyone involved an awful lot of backstory but none of it is even remotely developed enough for it to stick. The dialogue is terrible, forcing an awkward stiffness into the performances of the main cast who actually aren’t as bad as the material is forcing them to be. The half-hearted love triangle is quickly resolved by another triangular object, or at least a mouthful of them as SHARK SEASON becomes yet another movie to follow the FRENZY template although this time with similar results.

The film repeatedly makes attempts to justify and contextualise its situations but it just can’t help but trip over its own stupid contrivances. The would-be shark bait victims enjoy regular contact with the shore yet somehow their location can’t be easily determined because it’s only in range of one cell tower. Fair enough, you might say, but it’s also within a couple of hours of leisure kayaking distance of the shore and for a large part of the movie they’re marooned on what is obviously the foundations of an old building so you’d think there’d be records of it? Yet they’re so remote that professional air/sea rescue cant find them even though a random passer-by on a Sea-Doo happens to zip by and give them a cheery wave before being unceremoniously devoured.

There’s a curiously patchwork texture to the filmmaking here, with plenty of close-up dialogue shots which look and feel like they were shot separately and after they’d returned from wherever the location shoot was. But the crowning nugget of sweetcorn on this glorious turd of a movie is a shambolic and depressing turn from Michael Madsen.

He looks terrible and sounds worse and while they seem to have spent most of the budget on securing Madsen’s rapidly dwindling star power, they clearly didn’t pay him enough to get out of his dressing-gown or run a comb through his hair.

Finally, the CGI shark here is atrocious and the frequent use of conspicuously mismatched stock footage at least gives the film a progressive air as there’s no doubting the unmissable gender fluidity of the primary antagonist. There’s an ambitious sequence – surprisingly unusual for the genre – where a school of dolphins intervenes at a crucial moment to thwart one of the shark’s attacks. It might sound good in theory but it looks absolutely rubbish which is, come to think of it, a pretty near summary of SHARK SEASON itself.