September 26, 2012 1 Comment
A year after his girlfriend’s brother was attacked and killed by a shark, Josh (Xavier Samuel) has quit his lifeguarding responsibilities and taken a job stacking shelves at the local supermarket. Tina (Sharni Vinson), meanwhile, has recently returned from a year in Singapore with new boyfriend Steven, the tragedy all-t00 fresh in her mind. Reunited during a hold-up at Josh’s place of work, the robbery is foiled when a freak tsunami floods the shop floor and traps a Great White Shark in with the surviving shoppers. Downstairs, in the waterlogged parking lot, ex-employee Ryan (Alex Russell) and a bickering young couple (Lincoln Lewis and Cariba Heine) find themselves fighting off a shark of their own.
Having recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival (marking the second time the historic town has played host to a CGI shark), Bait 3D has since landed on DVD and Blu-ray in most territories around the world. (Except for the U.K., that is, at least for the time being.) While timing puts it up against the likes of Shark Night 3D and Piranha 3DD, Kimble Rendall’s experiences working second unit on the likes of I, Robot and the Matrix sequels places Bait in a league of its own. With a script from genre maestro Russell Mulchahy (who makes up for flat dialogue with a deft handling of the necessary plot logistics) and a cast of capable — if overwrought — up-and-comers, there is plenty in Rendall’s film to get your teeth into.
The first thing that strikes you about Bait is just how appealing it all looks, the over-saturated palette sparkling in the Antipodean sunlight. While the opening sequence is somewhat undermined by the wobbly CGI of the first attack, the remarkable sets convince entirely both before and after the tsumani hits. The wave itself is particularly impressive, echoing the portent and devastation of the 2004 tsunami while also acting as an exhilarating set piece in its own right. The Great Whites, on the other hand, a combination of stock footage, CGI and practical effects, are occasionally convincing, but the limited screentime that they receive helps to build tension without ever undermining the threat of their presence.
The actors, like the sharks, are pretty hit and miss, too. Samuel (The Loved Ones) and Vinson (Step Up 3) make for likeable enough heroes, overcoming the contrivance of their situation to make the most of their fraught relationship. Most of the actors get through on good will alone, with Chronicle‘s Alex Russell and Tomorrow, When The War Began‘s Pheobe Tonkin building up a nice raport before being divided by the freak flood. Even Julian McMahon, free from the much maligned Fantastic Four franchise, manages to entertain as the burglar’s right hand man. The rest of the survivors, however, fail to make much impression, while Dan Wylie and Martin Sacks — who bears a striking resemblance to presenter Kevin McCloud — actively beg to be fed to the sharks.
Although there is little about Bait that warrants particular acclaim, it is nevertheless an entertaining and effective disaster movie that boasts a near-constant sense of escalation: from petty theft, armed robbery, murder, a tsunami to, finally, two twelve-foot Great Whites. It’s very nearly almost there, with Rendall making the most of his experiences and resources to produce a film that — with a little extra work and a slightly bigger budget — could have been very impressive indeed. Even so, it’s still the best shark movie since Deep Blue Sea (for what it’s worth), and the corpse-littered waters, grizzly effects and expert use of 3D (or so it appears) work very well in its favour. The most memorable scene doesn’t involve the sharks at all, but a rescue attempt made using a diving suit forged from shopping baskets and a hose-pipe. To their infinite credit, the cast don’t so much as smirk.
A trashy B-movie picture with a high-concept premise that makes Snakes on a Plane look positively mundane, Bait is an affably serviceable shlocker that — at 91 minutes — doesn’t outstay its welcome. While its sharks leave a fair amount to be desired, a functional script, a half-decent cast and some strong direction make this the best of the current crop of deep sea horror ensuring that you never stay in the water for very long.