Greenpeace should campaign to save anyone from watching this movie

Shark Huntress is one of those bad shark movies that baits the hook with egregiously misleading poster art and then chums the water with some striking initial cinematography but as soon as we stop filming the scenery and start focussing on the people, it all falls apart.

When her eco-warrior mother is killed in an apparent shark attack, Sheila (played with wooden intensity by Katrina Grey) embarks on a mission to avenge her mother’s death, deciding to honour the Confucian principle of “digging two graves” however in this case, one is for the nefarious but nebulously defined “plastic people” and the other is for the matricidal monster shark.

Filmed in a grey-skied off season resort (the hotel building pulling double duty as a hospital later) in Thailand (standing in for Micronesia), Shark Huntress takes an impressively egalitarian approach to casting, with no role deemed unsuitable for anyone regardless of lack of talent, absence of screen presence or even ability to speak English. Shiela is frequently referred to as an American girl despite having a distinctively East European accent throughout and if you were charitable enough to credit the writers with any wit whatsoever you might even be tempted to see her pathological environmentalism as a satire of Greta Thunberg – but that’s a mighty big if.

The way the script mangles the language you’d be forgiven for thinking it might have been written in another language – and possibly in crayon – before being fed through the most basic AI translation tool available.  The shark being described as a “special endangered species that you can’t find anywhere but she found it” is one example of le mot juste. “The shark is suspected of taking one of our local fisherman woman” is another. Every line is delivered with such clumsiness you begin suspect the cast only ever had time for one take before moving on to the next scene, except for John Flano’s Guru character who seems to have come up with the cunning ruse of blearily reading his lines off the inside of his ubiquitous sunglasses.

The driving force behind the story is the linking of Sheila’s mother’s death to her investigations into corporate pollution that she ran out of her “secret lab that wasn’t a secret” (another golden nugget from the actual script) but the only thing being polluted is the audience’s consciousness with the nonsensical drivel this film keeps shovelling into the waters of its story.

We’re expected to believe that the immoral but ill-defined “plastic people” (sadly not a reference to Doctor Who’s Nestene Consciousness or Yazz’ backing group gone rogue) were so perturbed by the actions of a lone eco-warrior that they went to the time, effort and expense of catching a Great White Shark alive, keeping it alive while transporting it thousands of miles and then releasing it into an unfamiliar environment in the hope that it will cross paths with a specific canoeist and, in a further stroke of serendipitous convenience, attack and kill said canoeist. It’s little wonder that when the “plastic people” are forced to act again later, they resort to a much more mundane method of murder. Regardless of the vast profits to be made from inundating Micronesia with microplastics, one suspects their operating budget only stretches to one Bond villain-style execution per fiscal quarter.

Shark Huntress is much more a thrill-free eco-thriller than it is a shark movie, but the film’s important environmental message delivered with all the subtlety and tautological earnestness of a year 7 science essay, and it dominates the narrative to such a suffocating degree that it’s likely it will alienate rather than convert any casual shark movie viewers to its cause while at the same time enraging shark conservationists with its eye-for-an-eye approach to a shark just doing what sharks do.

Mercifully there are no obvious CGI effects on show here but what it lacks in digital disappointment it more than makes up for in practical effects paucity. It’s a good job this so-called shark movie doesn’t feature the shark all that much as the effects might have dragged it down even further.

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