Spring Break Shark Attack (2005)

Von Zerneck Sertner Films/ CBS.  Director: Paul Shapiro.

Creature Feature Bleacher Awards: Least Amount of Screen Time for Sharks, Most Sharks

What a stinker.  If you’re looking for a bad sharksploitation film, you’ll be sadly disappointed.  If you’re looking for a Lifetime movie about attempted date rape and the emotional damage that a father’s infidelity can wreak on his family, then “Spring Break Shark Attack” is the movie for you.  The film proves just how diverse the sharksploitation genre really is.  I’m serious.  Most people lump all shark films together, but if you were to put “SBSA” up against, say, “Swamp Shark,” you’d quickly realize that they hardly belong in the same category.  Even though both contain teenage romances, they feel completely different.  And while “SBSA” isn’t very graphic (with shark attacks that are almost embarrassingly lame), it tackles much more adult themes than “Swamp Shark.”

As far as the plot is concerned, this film should more accurately be called “Spring Break, Shark Attack.”  Unbeknownst to her controlling and adulterous father, college student Danielle (Shannon Lucio) postpones a spring break Habitat For Humanity trip in order to visit her friend’s beach house in Florida.  But all is not well (and I’m not even talking about her failed efforts to hook a guy).  Danielle’s marine biologist brother Charlie (Wayne Thornley) suspects that a newly-installed reef may be drawing sharks to the beach!  Then the plot basically stops for a good 45 minutes as Danielle tries to decide which guy she likes better, attempted rapist J.T. (Justin Baldoni) or ashamed-to-be-poor Shane (Riley Smith).  Then sharks attack.

The Polish DVD Cover

As you can tell, this isn’t exactly my favorite shark movie, perhaps because there are hardly any shark scenes in it!  In the first hour of this 88 minute film, there are no more than three fatal shark attacks.  Three!  It’s as if the writers were happily going about their business only to remember periodically, “Oh no!  This movie is supposed to have sharks in it!”  To make matters worse, the main characters don’t even become aware of the sharky threat until the last half hour of the film!   Maybe I’m being too harsh, but for some reason I expected that a movie with the phrase “Shark Attack” in the title would contain more than a few shark attacks.

That being said, the movie offers an abnormally reasonable explanation for why the sharks attack.  There haven’t been any unnatural vibrations that drew in sharks because of SCIENCE.  There wasn’t a big explosion that released a prehistoric BIOLOGICAL shark.  Nope, it was just some guy throwing fish guts in the water.  Even more surprising, he has a believable reason for doing so.  I won’t tell you what it is because sharing it might ruin the film for you (probably not).  The one thing that did draw my attention, however, was the sheer number of sharks this guy manages to pull in.

It’s kind of blurry, but all of those little dots are sharks!  Now I don’t know much about the science of sharks, but I do know that that’s the largest group of sharks I’ve ever seen in one of these movies.  Hats off to the filmmakers for that!  They must have blown their whole shark budget on the last half hour, especially when you consider that these are no ordinary sharks.  They can change size in an instant!  For example, when they attack, their fins look considerably larger than a man’s head:

Yet undersea they look a little smaller:

It’s almost as if… no, it couldn’t be… well, it’s almost as if the filmmakers had access to… preexisting footage of sharks.  That would, of course, be impossible.  Although… if they did have such footage, I bet they could have put it in the movie and tried to fool us by passing these sharks off as the same ones who attack all the people!

Nahhh, sounds a little farfetched to me.

Another thing that sets “Spring Break Shark Attack” apart is that the filmmakers apparently knew a decent number of young people.  At no point during the scenes of college students lying on the beach, drinking, dancing, or being eaten by sharks did I ridicule them on the basis of their small numbers.  Vapidity, yes, scarcity, no.  On top of that, the civic and business leaders offer no economic reason to keep the beach open despite the threat of sharks.  Instead, the authorities appear on the scene only to tend the wounded.

A believable reason for shark attacks, normally-populated beaches, logical action on the part of the authorities….WHAT KIND OF BIZARRE UNIVERSE ARE THESE PEOPLE LIVING IN?!?

The final strange thing about this film is that an established and storied network threw (and, technically, throws) its backing behind it.  Yes, Syfy frequently shows bad creature films, but that is their mandate.  CBS, on the other hand, should know better.  They are evidently proud enough of this film to maintain a website for it, which is to say that some poor sap slapped a little something together in 2005 and the network forgot to take it down.  According to the website, “Spring Break Shark Attack” will be showing on Sunday, March 20th.  I did a little research and found out that this date/day of the week combination will next occur in 2016.  They’re really planning ahead!

No trailer for “Spring Break Shark Attack” appears to exist.

“Spring Break Shark Attack” is available for purchase on Amazon.

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