A crappy shark movie by any other name would smell just as fishy

By the transitive properties of crappy shark movie budgets, The Requin (also known, more generically, as From Below) pays for its bigger star name by having a much smaller cast but it does innovate in finding a new approach to marooning its protagonists at sea. We’ve had boats, kayaks, jet skis, literally sinking temporary islands, underwater laboratories but The Requin brings us a floating bungalow – talk about an ocean view! Yes, bungalows – not just for crushing gaudily-shod, stripey tights wearing witches anymore.

Jaelyn (Alicia Silverstone, our marquee name) and Kyle (James Tupper) are holidaying in a beachfront cabin in Vietnam, a trip intended to heal the trauma of a recent stillbirth but on their second night there a violent storm lashes the resort and, breaking the cabin free of its moorings, blows it out to sea, with Kyle being severely injured in the process. When they spy a ship in the distance, our inspired couple decide to create a smoke signal in their wooden cabin which predictably engulfs the entire structure forcing them to abandon it for a driftwood raft whereupon Kyle’s legs are promptly bitten off by the eponymous requin in its first of many (but arguably not enough) appearances.

There’s a somewhat half-hearted attempt to give the titular shark a more metaphorical role in the proceedings, as the manifestation of maternal (and then pyromaniacal and, I guess, matricidal) guilt but the script isn’t really up to the task and Alicia Silverstone seems too disengaged to care either way. Any pretence of exploring the psychological fallout from the loss of a child or, subsequently, a husband take a back seat to the contrivances of bad shark movie conventions where our heroine reaches dry land only to find reason to venture back into the water again and again.

If the presence of a star name in The Requin might raise your expectations of a similar effort being made in the antagonist effects (like The Shallows) but if that’s the case, then this is where The Requin delivers its reckoning. The effects are disappointingly par for the bad shark movie course and rarely if ever rise above the basic Asylum standards you might have come to expect. I guess if you’ve splashed our Silverstone money, you can’t spring for anything more than the basic shark FX package.

There’s also no real explanation (beyond lending it an unearned air of pretension) for why the film is called The Requin, an archaic term for a requiem shark, derived from the French for shark, requin. Nobody in the film is French, nor is the film set in France or any of its French Overseas Territories and, while we’re at it, the great white shark isn’t even a requiem shark – it’s a mackerel shark. So never mind From Below, this film should actually be called The Mackerel.

Cheap, contrived, dull and disappointing, The Mackeral aka The Requin aka From Below is a muddled misfire of an attempt to deliver an elevated bad shark movie. It bets the house on being different but finds itself all at sea.

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