Review: Bait

Directed by: Kimble Rendall
Written by:John Kim, Russell Mulcahy
Starring: Xavier Samuel, Julian McMahon, Phoebe Tonkin, Sharni Vinson, Alex Russell, Lincoln Lewis
Released: September 20, 2012
Grade: C


Bait

We could start a debate about the best shark movie ever made… but it’s only go to lead to one answer – Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, released back in 1975.  It didn’t have the luxury of flashy, computer-generated special effects but it left most audiences on the edge of their seat.  The film took home three Academy Awards an earned a nomination for best picture (losing to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest).

With the benchmark set, this niche genre has taken two divergent paths in recent years.  Films like Deep Blue Sea (1999), Open Water (2003) and The Reef (2010) are thrillers that have tried to replicate the “scare factor” of Jaws (with moderate success).  On the flip side, we have movies that can be best described as comedic entertainment.  That list would include Shark Night 3D (2010), Dinoshark (2010) and… wait for it… Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus (2009).

The problem with Bait is that it doesn’t know what side of the fence it wants to sit on.  Given the absurd premise, I was expecting a comedy.  It’s set in a supermarket by the beach that becomes flooded due to the effects of a massive tidal wave.  This happened at the exactly the same time that an armed robbery was in progress.

Anyway, water has inundated the building and the front entrance has been blocked by debris to prevent an easy escape (an obvious plot device).  We’re now left with a small group who have perched themselves atop of the supermarket shelves and are trying to find a way out.  They could stay and wait to be rescued but lo and behold, the water level is rising (yep, another obvious plot device) and time is running out.  I should also mention that there’s another group of people trapped in the underground car park.

The time has come to introduce… sharks!  I’ve seen folk on Twitter refer to this film as the shark equivalent of Snakes On A Plane.  Perhaps a more appropriate title would be Sharks In A Supermarket.  These sharks aren’t interested in the Corn Flakes, Tim Tams and two-minute noodles that can be found in aisle 7.  They’d prefer some fresh meat, straight off the human bone.

With this ridiculous situation now established, the script stumbles.  Instead of being a fun, silly comedy, it tries to be a heart-pounding thriller.  It doesn’t work.  Bait takes itself way too seriously and there are only a handful of witty one-liners.  It leaves us with a flat thriller starring a bunch of characters we couldn’t care less about.  The unconvincing special effects will also leave you confused – are the sharks supposed to be scary?

Xavier Samuel and Julian McMahon headline the cast along with rising stars Alex Russell and Lincoln Lewis.  I don’t expect this film will be featuring too prominently on their resumes.