That putrid rotting smell isn’t the star of Zombie Shark (2020), it’s the movie itself. #SharkWeak4🦈 Review
While more recent bad shark movies have displayed a greater range than might be expected, ZOMBIE SHARK (also known as Shark Island) is very much a throwback to the sausage factory bad shark movie output of the 2010s. After the unexpected ocean delights of SHARK KILLER and DEEP BLUE SEA 3, this decaying corpse of a movie abruptly re-pollutes the waters of Shark Weak 4.
When a group of friends travel to an exotic island for a vacation, little do they know that the waters surrounding their tropical getaway are home to a genetically engineered shark, the accidental byproduct of military super-soldier research. A shark carrying a deadly pathogen that can reanimate the dead. Boy, that super-soldier serum never goes well, does it?
This is one high concept SyFy shark flick that stinks to high heaven long before the eponymous maneater washes ashore. Yes, it’s whacky and yes, it’s cheesy but apart from the knowingly broad performance by Roger Timber as Lester, the island resort’s concierge, everyone else is so stiff and artificial the movie almost works as a parable about the toxic effects of plastic pollution on marine life. Timber seems determined to single-handedly drag this movie along and inject some personality and energy into proceedings. If the makers of this film had any sense (and ample evidence is provided to the contrary), they would have ditched their original shooting script and reworked the entire thing to revolve around Lester and his ragtag island zombie hunting posse instead of the usual grab-bag of attractive teens straight from the blandest central casting office. While it teases far more flesh than it actually shows, it’s still a little bit sexier than your run-of-the-mill bad shark movie not that the bare minimum of titillation helps distract you from the absence of anything else worth looking at.
The special effects of ZOMBIE SHARK are as awful as you’d expect, which is a real shame because the real tragedy of this film is that the idea at its core is a good one. There’s a lot of appeal to the idea of a zombie virus which can leap the species barrier in such spectacular style but the skill and talent on hand here are woefully short of making anywhere near the most of its grisly premise.
It’s not like it fails solely through lack of resources either, although it’s clearly made on a shoestring budget. There are numerous unforced errors of sloppy filmmaking that undermine whatever audience goodwill ZOMBIE SHARK might have been able to rely on. Chief amongst these is a repeatedly-central-to-the-plot powerful storm that separates the island resort from the mainland which is often discussed but never seen, especially whenever shooting takes place outdoors in either location.
Once the undead plague starts infecting humans, ZOMBIE SHARK starts to lose sight of what it’s really about and in trying to be both a zombie movie and a shark movie at the same time ends up doing neither well at all. It’s hard, though, to completely hate a movie that has a shark killed by a weedwhacker.