This was my first experience with Redbox. For some time, I have been curious about the strange machines that have invaded grocery stores but I did not have the need to use one until now. I had heard about the premise of Shark Week a few months ago and thought the combination of elements of Jaws and Saw was an interesting one. The problem was that I could not find this flick anywhere unless I wanted to purchase a copy of the DVD to own. One day, when picking up some Eggos and mangos at the supermarket, I glanced over at the video store slayer and noticed that Shark Week was being offered for rental. I decided to get with the new technology and use this strange machine to take the movie home for the night. I swiped my credit card and after a $1.50 charge, the DVD came out and I anticipated checking this flick out. It was exciting to pick out a new release and look forward to popping it in to my player just like the good old days. As soon as I hit play, however, my excitement quickly diminished when the logo for The Asylum came up.
Patrick Bergin (Lawnmower Man 2) and Yancy Butler (Hard Target) star as a couple who assemble a series of captives who all had something to do with the death of their son. Bergin has masterminded a series of tests that the prisoners must pass to escape from their predicament. This idea is nothing new as it has been used in plenty of movies including the Saw franchise but there is a twist in that each test level involves a different kind of ferocious shark. They begin with mini-sharks and move on to a hammerhead, a tiger shark, and a great white. It is odd because the victims spend much of the time wandering around on the island on dry land but somehow keep finding themselves in shark-infested water. As their numbers diminish and the usual infighting begins, it becomes obvious pretty quick who is going to die in each encounter.
This movie has its share of problems and it is unfortunate that the potentially cool idea is not able to flourish. The first issue is the CGI which is up to the usual Asylum standard of looking like it was made by a high school student who was trying to crap out a computer project on Sunday night after partying all weekend. All of the shark attacks suffer this travesty which in itself is enough to kill the movie. This is accentuated by the terrible script that includes ridiculous ways for killing the sharks from holding them by the tail and pulling them backwards so that they suffocate to literally punching a great white in the face. I actually had to stop the movie and rewind it twice during the great white scene as I thought the movie had lulled me in a hallucinatory state of stupidity so that I was imagining things. This was not the case and one character is actually punching the shark while another guy holds it down. It may sound funny but it is just plain dumb. There is also a scene involving land mines that had me scratching my head wondering if the writer really thought I would not question what I was seeing. In fact, the whole movie is so poorly written and executed that any hope of it being funny due to the sheer suspension of disbelief that you are expected to have is wasted and it just becomes annoying. The dialogue is equally terrible and includes the following nonsensical line referring to the intelligence of baby sharks that is really silly if you actually do the math: "They are only two months old but more sophisticated than humans more than 20 times their age." I have never been threatened by the mental capacity of a three-year-old but clearly the writer of this flick has. It is easy to see why.
It is not pleasant for me to be so hard on this movie as I was really hoping that director Christopher Ray would follow in the footsteps of his father (B-movie legend Fred Olen Ray). Instead of bringing the youthful creativity and enthusiasm of his dad's early career, Chris has stepped into the shoes of the older, jaded Fred who is just delivering a product rather than making a movie for the love of the craft. It makes me sad that Chris just seems to be churning out flicks without seeming to understand what true genre fans want. Maybe he will turn it around but after seeing Shark Week, I really do feel like it is the end of an era. (Josh Pasnak, 3/14/13)
Directed By: Christopher Ray.
Written By: Liz Adams, H. Perry Horton.
Starring: Yancy Butler, Patrick Bergin, Josh Allen, Bart Baggett.