I wasn’t going to watch Shark Bait. After Great White and The Requin, I was over watching annoying idiots floating around trying not to become dinner for a CGI shark. But I noticed it was directed by James Nunn who also directed Tower Block and One Shot. In addition, he was the second unit director on 47 Meters down and its sequel. So he should know a thing or two about shark films, and this wasn’t going to be another disaster right?
Nat (Holly Earl, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Once Upon a Time in London) and her boyfriend Tom (Jack Trueman) are in Mexico, (it was actually shot in Malta which would have made for a more interesting setting), for Spring Break along with their friends Greg (Thomas Flynn, Little Fish), Tyler (Malachi Pullar-Latchman, Open All Night) and Milly (Catherine Hannay, Doctors). After a night of drinking, they decide to go jet skiing. But since the rental office isn’t open yet they decide to simply “borrow” a pair of them despite Nat’s misgivings.
We all know this isn’t going to end well, and it doesn’t. After they crash the jet skis while playing chicken one sinks leaving two of them injured and all of them clinging to one craft out of sight of the shore. And, as you may have guessed from the film’s title, at the mercy of a large, hungry, shark.
Writer Nick Saltrese (Hollyoaks, EastEnders) populates Shark Bait with the usual cast of annoying idiots out to have fun and make bad choices. We also get the obvious final girl who has reservations about it but goes along anyway. Unsurprisingly given his background in soap operas, Saltrese also lays the drama on thick. That’s not always a bad thing, the writer of Hollow wrote for many of the same shows and made the human drama an integral part of the plot. But here we get tedious bickering over things like the revelation that Tom was having an affair with Milly.
Given Nunn’s credits, it’s no surprise that Shark Bait’s jet ski crash looks good. But the footage leading up to it is a disappointingly weak mix of obvious green screen shots, high-altitude drone footage and a couple of shots where you can easily tell that it’s stunt performers, not the actual actors.
Once the shark shows up Shark Bait does get somewhat better. Nunn films the attacks with plenty of energy and a surprising amount of gore. There are also some nightmarish touches like a character finding themselves snagged on a body the shark is dragging off.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of those moments and Shark Bait more often falls into by the numbers plotting. From the foreshadowing presence of a beggar who lost both legs to a great white to characters dying within site of safety you can pretty much tell who lives, who dies and in what order. That doesn’t prevent the film from delivering some jump scares, but it means there’s little actual suspense.
The shark itself is, as expected, a CGI creation and the quality of that CGI varies greatly from shot to shot. Scenes of it swimming around, silently menacing the characters look quite good. But a scene of it attacking the jet ski is almost comically awful. The same is true of Shark Bait’s kills. The practical work is convincing enough, but the attempts at CGI enhanced carnage leave a lot to be desired.
While still not a really good movie, Shark Bait is well ahead of most recent killer shark films so fans of the genre may well have a good time with it. But for most others, its overly derivative plotting and unlikable characters will make it hard to resist fast-forwarding between the attacks.
Shark Bait is available on VOD and Digital platforms from Vertical Entertainment, a Blu-ray and DVD release is planned for some point in the coming months. In the meantime, FilmTagger has a few alternatives you can think your teeth into.