Bull Shark (2022) Movie Review – Shark Week Horror!
A woman's body turns up badly mutilated after she went missing while swimming. Despite suspecting foul play. It turns out that the victim was, apparently, killed by a shark. The only problem? She was swimming in a lake. Determined to protect the people visiting his town. Game Warden Spencer will do whatever it takes to find out what is lurking beneath the water.
We are back with another installment in our Shark Week Horror feature as today we are reviewing Bull Shark from 2022. For those of you who don’t know, we are in the middle of a couple of features. One of which being summer themed horror movies and the other being Shark Week. I mean, those two subjects go hand in hand, right? Barely anyone sets a shark movie in winter. It’s a comfortable and lazy way for me to concentrate my reviews over a few linear subjects.
We aren’t reviewing any old shark movies, though. No way! We aren’t bringing you the ultimate master list of the best shark movies around. That would be too easy. We are back to our old tricks of hitting up Tubi looking for pennies in piles of poo. Most of these movies are going to suck. I doubt we will find a single thing worth recommending.
The first three movies we have reviewed as part of this feature were simply bad. Shark Bait was a middle of the road, cheap feeling, shark movie with limited thrills. Shark Waters was Asylum doing exactly what Asylum does.. Sucking! And Shark Huntress was the worst horror I have seen since #Float. Bull Shark, on the other hand, is a little different. It is both bad and extremely boring.
Playing out as part family drama, part retelling of Jaws. The actual shark element here seems to be desperately lacking. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that the shark is more of a background character than anything. It plays second fiddle to the story of an alcoholic game warden trying to keep his life on track as everything falls apart around him.
You may be wondering what the deal is. I mean, after all, you signed up to see people being eaten by a crazed shark, right? Well Brett Bentman doesn’t particularly care what you want. Brett Bentman wants to tell you a boring story of an obnoxious person trying not to ruin his life…. Yay!
Seems a Bit Familiar
A woman’s body washes up on the shore after she goes missing while swimming. What is initially suspected to be foul play actually turns out to be the result of a shark attack. A Local man desperately pleads to shut down the waters to prevent the death of further innocent people. But the town’s mayor refuses, realising the impact it will have on the area’s tourist industry. It’s now up to the man to overcome both his troubled home life and the shark that is killing people right under his nose.
Now if you think I am describing the plot of the fantastic Spielberg movie Jaws. You would be right; but I am also describing the plot of Bull Shark. Yes, this movie is a complete and utter rip off of the 1975 iconic shark thriller. Simply swap the job of Sheriff to that of a game warden. And change the setting of the New England beach town to a lake and you have this movie.
Bull Shark is painfully unoriginal in a sea of unoriginal shark movies. It’s as if the writer pitched Jaws but with a brand new and shocking caveat… It’s set on a lake. “Think Jaws… But with muggier water and less people”.. “But sharks don’t live in fresh water doofus!”.. “Bull sharks!!”. This is a point that the movie is going to go over repeatedly so you better get used to it.
Bull Sharks is Amazing!!1!
I get a distinct feeling that writer, director, Brett Bentman didn’t know much about bull sharks. I feel like he watched a documentary about them. Was completely amazed that they could live in fresh water and then had the bright idea to put a fresh water spin on Jaws. For those of you who don’t know. Bull Sharks belong to a group known as Requiem Sharks. This is a group of live bearing, migratory, sharks that, many of which, will sometimes enter brackish, or even fresh, water.
Bull Sharks are particularly noteworthy in this species for being Euryhaline so fully able to adapt to either fresh or salt water. Just like your humble Molly or Guppy that can live in both fresh water aquariums and marine. Bull Sharks are able to do the same. Having adapted to conserve sodium levels in the blood while in fresh water. Rather than excreting excess amounts of it in the way salt water fish do.
Pretty cool. They are also noteworthy for being incredibly aggressive. Unlike Great White Sharks that have a fearsome reputation but mostly attack humans due to mis-identification. Bull Sharks want you to get the hell out of their territory and are more than happy to show you the door. In fact, their propensity for taking chunks out of legs has lead to their numbers being drastically reduced. Humans cull en masse due to the threat posed to swimmers in local beaches. A sad fact of humanity’s need to place money above the health of nature.
A Threat in Lakes?
So why don’t we see Bull Sharks in fresh water more often? Well, it’s pretty simple. These are big creatures with a large demand for protein and fat. Their main source of prey is likely to be found in the ocean where fish are larger and species more diverse. Though a bull shark could survive indefinitely in fresh water. They will likely starve to death within a few years. That’s without mentioning the fact that a Bull Shark would struggle mightily to get some nookie in fresh water. The pursuit of mating partners takes place in the ocean. Meaning a shark would probably have a hard time making the toothy beast with two backs in a river or lake.
So does the premise of the movie Bull Shark make sense? Well, it is certainly possible. Bull Sharks are found in fresh water, we know that. In fact, Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel that Jaws is based on. Built his story around the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916. Two of which took place in either brackish or fresh water. Leading Bull Sharks to be the lead suspects in those cases. They have even been noted to have attacked bathers in the Ganges river. So there is a distinct possibility that this could happen. Especially considering the fact that Bull Sharks are found off of the coast of the USA.
So You Are Telling Me There is a Chance?
So yeah, Bull Sharks can survive in fresh water but this movie is set on a lake. A lake is defined as a body of water surrounded by land. Whereas most lakes are connected to the sea in some way. Most will never have a connection suitable for a bull shark to find its way into them. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, though. In fact, lake pontchartrain in Louisiana (Who dat!) has an actual recorded bull shark attack that took place in the last 10 years. Hell, anglers are actually managing to catch bull sharks there with some degree of frequency. Thinking twice about hitting the lake for a swim, yet?
So bull sharks in lakes are a genuine possibility. They have been found even within the United States and attacks on swimmers have actually been recorded. So this movie’s plot is not as far fetched as it seems. Don’t get me wrong, the way Bentman explains how the shark ended up in the lake is far fetched. But it genuinely does happen. Now you might be wondering why I am spending so much time talking about sharks. Well, for one, they are pretty cool, right? And for two, this movie is so boring that I really don’t want to talk about it. Especially when I can talk about some of nature’s most impressive killing machines instead.
Just So Slow and Dull
Bull Shark chooses to push aside its cool subject matter to instead place the focus on an annoying game warden who is slowly ruining his life. This guy manages the lake and feels like it his responsibility to protect the people there. He is a recovering alcoholic who is struggling to avoid drinking every day and is slowly losing his grip on his family. His wife wants a divorce, his son doesn’t want to see him and I don’t want to watch a movie about people’s relationship struggles. Nobody is getting what they want from this film.
While Jaws did devote a fair amount of time to Brody’s personal life and the corruption of the town’s government. Bull Shark decides to take all of that bullshit and bureaucracy and make it the focus of the movie. The shark barely makes an appearance. Instead of cool scenes of scantily clad people being eaten alive. We are given scenes of Spencer frantically talking on the phone with a bunch of different people. Seriously, this is the most action packed the movie gets. Bull Shark is tremendously boring.
When Bull Shark isn’t sending the viewer to sleep with Spencer running his errands. It is disappointing them with some of the worst CGI I have ever seen. I am seriously beginning to think that these movie makers just buy a bunch of stock, computer generated, shark scenes and then build a movie around them. It is beyond bad. We have more of the crappy CG blood from Shark Waters but the actual shark itself manages to look even worse. It is like something you would see on an educational CD ROM from the late 90s. Just awful. In fact, I am fairly sure it isn’t even a bull shark. It is just a generic great white. Bull sharks have blunt snouts.
Combine that with the movie repeatedly re-emphasising the fact that bull sharks can live in fresh water. As if nobody there ever watched a documentary before. And a bunch of inaccuracies regarding sharks such as claiming it lost a tooth because it is a juvenile. Despite the fact that sharks lose and replace teeth consistently throughout their lives. And what you have left is a poorly researched movie that gets its only point of interest completely wrong. It’s all very lazy.
Action scenes involving the shark consist of people shooting randomly into the open water. Desperately hoping to hit something. And idiots falling into the drink before being consumed off screen. But don’t worry, we also get to see Spencer’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor chastising him for falling off the wagon. So it’s not all a complete wash. Utterly mind numbing. The ending of the movie, once again, pays homage to Jaws. But it is so completely underwhelming and such a non-event that you will almost wonder whether that is it. Did you miss something? I suppose, if nothing else, it is fitting given the lethargic flow of the movie leading up to it.
Acting is Mixed
Thom Hallum, as Spencer, is okay, I suppose. He seems bored for much of the time and occasionally uncomfortable in his delivery but he does okay for the most part. Billy Blair, as Nolan, is probably the only one in the movie that gives his character any kind of personality. I will be hearing his horrible gum chewing in my nightmares for years to come, though. Everyone else is a range of mediocre through to wooden as a board. This is typical budget horror stuff for the most part. Nobody seems to have much personality and everyone is a facsimile of characters from other horror movies.
The movie looks okay in parts. There’s some fairly competent equipment used here so it doesn’t look quite as low budget as it might seem. It is let down tremendously by it’s terrible effects, though. The CG is awful and I am fairly sure the shark was, for the most part, represented by a person swimming with a shark fin prop like Bart in the Simpsons. Audio hisses tons which is a big problem in budget horror.
As far as direction goes, it’s all pretty uninspired. There are a fair few continuity issues here and there. Some of the shots are a bit bizarre and don’t work well with some angles being particularly strange. And the pacing is a mess with long periods of dull nothingness. Again, it’s just very boring. It seems like Bentman doesn’t understand how to make an interesting movie. Even when the subject is a shark that should be spending most of its time eating scantily clad beach goers.
Final Thoughts and Score
This is probably the most boring shark movie I have ever watched. Bull Shark is a laborious, slow, dull and uninteresting movie that manages to make the subject of sharks yawn inducing. That is a task in and of itself. Nothing happens for the majority of this movie. Instead of seeing a killer shark gobbling up swimmers. We see an annoying man gobble down alcohol while ruining his life. If I wanted to see that, I would sign up to Facebook and add some of the people I went to school with.
Subpar acting, terrible CG effects and a complete lack of action wrap up what is an almost impossible to recommend shark movie. If you have to watch one terrible shark movie today, make it Shark Bait. At least that has Jet skis and squabbling friends. Bull Shark is not at all worth your time.
So that is four movies down in our Shark Week feature. It has been pretty bad. Shark Week in 2023 has not been great and I don’t know if I can add to it over the weekend. I’m actually busy and might not get to put together another review. I will look to review one more though so there is still some hope. Thanks for reading!
Trailer: Bull Shark (2022)
A group of friends head off on vacation for a few days of sand, sea and sun. After stealing a couple of jet skis for some thrill seeking fun. The group are involved in an accident which sends them plummeting into shark infested waters.
Lucia heads out on a fishing charter to spend a day under the sun catching some fish. What starts as a relaxing afternoon on the waves quickly turns into a harrowing and poorly rendered fight for survival as a group of CG sharks attack their boat. Stranded miles away from shore. The group are caught in a life or death fight for their survival.
Shelia, an environmentalist venturing into the deep sea to capitalize on the billion-dollar plastic industry encounters deadly enhanced sharks. She wants revenge… it wants blood. I want to never have to watch such a terrible shark movie ever again.