Shark Bait is close to being the Platonic ideal of a bad shark movie

Shark Bait (also known as Jet Ski but changed presumably so that people would realise there’s a shark in it) sets out its stall as a Spring Break fantasy, opening after the obligatory underwater title sequence on an impossibly curated beach party full of tequila shots, fire-spinning and flashing (away from camera). The party buzz is harshed by an encounter with a legless local who rambles an unheeded-until-it’s-too-late warning about a “jaquetón blanco” but before long they’re back to partying the night away and into the next morning. Spring break is, of course, a time for youthful exuberance and bad decisions and while the former explains much of the initial plot set up of Shark Bait, the bad decisions part takes on a metatextual quality as it described not only the events of the film but also the choice made by you, the audience, to watch them unfold.

Lamenting their last day of their holiday, Tom (Jack Trueman), Tyler (Malachi Pullar-Latchman) and Greg (Thomas Flynn) spy some jet skis and break into the rental office to steal the keys. Convincing the girls, the neon-clad Milly (Catherine Hannay) and the more reluctant Nat (Holly Earl), to join them for a quick spin before heading back to the beach for breakfast churros, the boys instead decide to play ocean chicken, with predictably disastrous results. One of the jet skis sinks immediately, the other is damaged and will not start and Greg’s leg is broken in spectacularly bone-through-the-skin style. Stranded, with blood in the water, the gang find themselves at the mercy of a great white shark that’s probably come to see what all the fuss is about.

There are certain formulae for a certain types of bad shark movie and Shark Bait efficiently chooses its tropes to get us straight into the action with a minimal waiting time. Despite being on jet skis for all of five minutes before their stupidity earns its richly deserved reward, they seem to be entirely out of sight of the shore, which seems unlikely at best. As they discover that their remaining floating jet ski is also broken, the film intercuts back to the shore to show that their stuff is either being washed away by the sea or cleaned up by the long-suffering locals. Any trace of our characters is being wiped away as surely as you’ll want to erase this movie from your memory once it’s finished.

While it boasts decent production values and the effects are decidedly in the above-average category, the plotting is achingly predictable, the characters are a tick-box exercise in cliché, and the performances can’t prevent the leaden script from sinking into the depths. Anyone who’s ever watched a shark movie can guess the sequence of events and the fate of each character. The film hits every shark movie trope without adding anything new, making it feel more like a checklist than a narrative. There’s Tom, the arrogant jock, whose character development amounts to a superficial and entirely irrelevant revelation about past infidelity; Milly, the busty, free-spirited party girl and participant in said infidelity; and the drippy but oh-so-obvious final girl Nat who, improbably, is Tom’s actual girlfriend.

Given the characters are so unlikeable, it’s hard to care if they’ve treated each other shittily in the past, let alone root for their survival against a shark that might just be doing society a favour. Their reckless decisions and incessant bickering add an unnecessary irritant to the mix, meaning the longer the movie goes on, the more you’re pulling for the shark to put them out of our misery. The exception might be Tyler, who takes on the requisite role of “person who swims for help.” He’s easily the most likeable of the group, and it’s a shame the movie doesn’t focus more on him rather than the melodrama à trois sitting atop the defunct jet ski. As for the shark, both the practical and CGI effects are actually pretty good, meaning the supposed villain of the piece might just deliver the best performance of the movie.

Shark Bait offers a familiar but uninspiring ride for shark movie enthusiasts but its studied mediocrity doesn’t do it any favours. Not good enough to be good, it’s not anywhere near bad enough to be so bad it’s good. If watching five whiny, entitled teens being eaten up by their first world problems before being eaten up for real, then maybe this is the movie for you but for everyone else, this is one bait you’ll want to switch – off.

shark weak 5
shark bait review
logo

Related posts

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017) Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017) Review

There’s clearly a lot of love for the source material in DreamWorks’ adaptation of Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” children’s book series. Bright, breezy and unashamedly childish, it’s potty humour fashioned into fantastic family entertainment.George Beard and Harold Hutchins are a...

Smoking Causes Coughing (2023) Review

Smoking Causes Coughing (2023) Review

Smoking Causes Coughing, Quentin Dupieux’s absurdist satire of superhero sci-fi, packs an unexpected punch.Systematically silly, SMOKING CAUSES COUGHING introduces us to “Tobacco Force”, France’s premier superhero team; wearers of spandex, defeaters of rubber monsters and moralisers...

The Reef (2010) Review

The Reef (2010) Review

The Reef brings real sharks and real terror to Shark Weak 2The thing I love about sharksploitation movies is they’re generally fun. Fun is a big part of the appeal, even when – or maybe especially when – they’re bad. “The Reef” is not a bad movie, but it's also definitely not a...

Grab a red pill and prepare to unravel the Doc Vinci Code! Doctor Who: Extremis (S10E06) Review

Grab a red pill and prepare to unravel the Doc Vinci Code! Doctor Who: Extremis (S10E06) Review

*SPOILERS*After playing a blinder last week, what did “Doctor Who” have in store for us this time? Well, after the refreshingly straightforward run of episodes, it opened a can of vintage convoluted timey-wimey whoop-ass which has become the trademark of Moffat’s triumphs/ hallmark of...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.