The Asylum. Director: Christopher Ray.
Creature Feature Bleachers Award: Cleverest Title.
“Shark Week” is pretty typical Asylum schlock. It gets points for the surprise ending (wait for it!), but can otherwise be skipped. If anything, “Shark Week” stands out because it falls more on the “torture” end of the spectrum. That is, “torture” in the sense of what is depicted on screen, although it goes without saying that this sharksploitation flick will cause you viewers agony as well. Unfortunately, the cleverness stops after the witty title, which refers to a week of premeditated shark attacks. If you were hoping for a Discovery Channel program gone horribly wrong, “Shark Week” will disappoint you (but come a little closer and we’ll discuss “Shark Night 3D,” my friend). In fact, if you were hoping for anything other than a waste of 90 minutes, you’ll be disappointed as well.
Wealthy sadistic criminal Tiburon (Patrick Bergin) kidnaps a bunch of people and brings them to his private island. Equally as obsessed with sharks as he is with exacting his revenge, Tiburon forces the eight people to run a gamut of shark challenges. Each day, they will face a new species of shark. If they succeed in killing the shark, he will provide them with some supplies and—if they are clever enough to recognize them—tools to help them defeat the next shark. Along the way, some will die, but all must play his sick game. Through the course of the film, the victims learn to work together to defeat the sharks and puzzle out why Tiburon has chosen them for this torture. What do they have in common? Who will survive till the end? Does anyone really care?
While some might describe “Shark Week” as gross and disturbing, I find that many factors detract from the film’s overall ickiness. For one thing, it’s an Asylum film. We’re not talking about a carefully-crafted examination of the schadenfreude that twisted humans derive from watching others struggle and die. Let’s face it, the Asylum doesn’t have enough money to even use words like “schadenfreude,” “examination,” or “and.” Yes, I know that some of the most classic disturbing films had low budgets, but “Shark Week” isn’t one of them. It comes to us from the director of “2-Headed Shark Attack,” for Pete’s sake! Plus, the overuse of incredibly choppy edits really takes you out of the movie. This technique was probably supposed to be unsettling, but I honestly just thought my DVD player was skipping. And as if this were not enough to keep away your heebie-jeebies, the screen that tracks which characters have died looks like it came out of some kid’s video game.
I do like the little joke they slipped in about someone being eaten by a giant sloth, though.
I probably talk about Bruce Willis too much, but the male lead in “Shark Week” (Joshua Michael Allen) really tries to channel a young Bruce Willis. With the face, the attitude, and the (lack of) hair, he does a pretty good job of it, too. So unless we get an exceedingly successful letter-writing campaign going, I think we’d better enjoy Allen’s performance as much as we can— it’s the closest we’ll ever get to seeing Bruce Willis fighting sharks.
Of course, this being an Asylum film, many things don’t make sense. For one, the kidnapping victims are initially bound around the wrists, and must figure out a way to free themselves. Yet, their fetters are obviously just chains loosely wrapped around their wrists.
In another scene, junkie Layla (Valerie K. Garcia) briefly shifts her tattoos from her right arm to her left arm. There aren’t any mirrors around to explain the switch, which occurs between shots of the same scene.
And finally, it’s never quite clear whether Tiburon is supposed to be drunk, or whether the actor just couldn’t take it anymore.
The trailer includes the film’s best line: “I might feed you to the sharks as well!”
“Shark Week” is available on Amazon.