film reel image

film reel image

Monday, August 8, 2022

Shark Bait 2022 * * * Stars


2022's Shark Bait has a generic title. I mean anything a shark goes after is bait (duh). Look closer though. "Bait" tries really hard to freshen up the shark movie patheon. The shark in question is rarely seen in close-ups so yeah, why give another moviegoer a reason to put a label on this genre (fake marine fish with toothlike scales and dorsal fins).

Shark Bait is well, about a nasty great white. What else would they be thinking of? Said great white hunts a few drunk idiots who steal a couple of jet skis and venture out to sea. So OK, the characters in "Bait" are unlikable dolts who are cliches of any millennial stuck in peril. To "Bait's" credit though, we actually feel something for these people when they are being diced up. Maybe it's the pacing, maybe it's the jim-jams, maybe it's the nerves secreted. Somehow the whole thing works in a sort of B-movie conch.

Shot in Malta (near Sicily) and favoring itself as a more commercialized version of 2003's Open Water, Shark Bait is all too familiar but steadfast in its approach. "Bait's" director (James Nunn) elevates the material while making you forget that stuff like Apex Predators and 2020's Shark Season ever existed (that's a good thing). Whether he's hitting the audience with overhead shots, underwater shtick, bloodless kills, or various wipes, Nunn is the proverbial polisher of the turd that is the modern-day shark pic. It's like the guy who's the assistant to the assistant but doesn't mind the grunt work and wants to move up the veritable, cinematic food chain.

In retrospect, Shark Bait builds tension throughout and better recycles every piece of crud that came after 1975's Jaws (the GOAT of predatory thrillers as they say). If I'm up for a rental that's rawness doesn't scream hoary, I'll take this "bait" any time.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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