Shark Bait (2022) Movie Review – Shark Week Horror!
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.
Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we will be reviewing Tubi Original creature feature Shark Bait from 2022. Seems appropriate given that we are hitting the summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. Sun, sand, sea, and a huge killer shark. What could be better?
This movie is part of our Low Budget Horror on Tubi feature. It’s also part of our Summer Scares feature and I have decided to be lazy and include it in our Shark Week 2023 feature as well. Why not check those sections out for more movies like this?
Not So Low Budget Tubi Horror?
For those of you who don’t know. For the past month we have been reviewing nothing but ultra low budget horror on the free streaming service Tubi. Cost of living is up, everything is increasing in price and people are kicking their streaming services to the curb. With this in mind, we decided to focus on some cheaper streaming services. And by cheaper, I mean free.
Now I know what you may be thinking. Is Shark Bait really low budget horror? Does this really follow the rules I set for this feature back when it started? Well, no it doesn’t. But there is a reason for that. I was originally going to end our Low Budget Horror on Tubi Feature at the end of June. After some consideration, I decided to extend it. Instead wrapping it up at the 20 movie mark.
We have been watching an awful lot of shit recently. It has been bad movie after bad movie after bad movie. It’s all been looking a little grim. So I decided to change the rules a little bit. Let’s increase the budget. Let’s pick a few movies with some well known stars. Why not take a look at a few movies with an actual special effects budget?
That’s Where Shark Bait Comes In!
Following the story of a group of friends heading out on vacation. Stealing a couple of Jet skis, wiping out on them and ending up in shark infested water. Shark Bait offered some promise compared to most Tubi horror. I mean, this has to have a fairly substantial budget, right? They can afford a CG shark and jet skis. That’s pretty impressive.
Most of the other Tubi stuff I have reviewed on here couldn’t afford the plane ticket to Malta to film this movie. There has to be, at least, a tiny glimmer of hope. Don’t get me wrong. My decision to up the budget didn’t exactly pay off when it came to vampire stoner flick Captive. But it was a lot more watchable than Something Walks in the Woods. How will “Something Swims in the Sea” fare?
Just Another Shark Movie
Well, the answer is a mix of “rather disappointingly” and “exactly as you would expect”. These shark movies just don’t do anything new, do they? Whether it is Open Water 2: Adrift, The Reef or 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. They are all just so similar. A group of people do something stupid. They end up floating in the water. Shark comes along for a nibble. The water gets a worrying shade of crimson red. Something happens and most virtuous girl survives, rinse and repeat. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy them. But shark movies that stand out are few and far between.
I am a big fan of the first Open Water. I think The Shallows is a great example of the formula. And I actually really enjoyed 47 Meters Down; despite its lukewarm critical response. But most of these movies are extremely formulaic and follow a rigidly set pattern. Shark Bait is absolutely no different at all. Is that, in part, because director James Nunn worked on the aforementioned 47 Meters Down and its sequel? Probably!
What’s With Those Accents?
My first thought when watching Shark Bait, aside from how obnoxious the characters were. Was “what the hell is going on with these accents?”. They are “sort of” American and they keep referring to Kansas and the Chiefs. But something feels incredibly sus. It turns out that Shark Bait is actually a British movie. These are all English actors putting on American accents. So as a Welsh person, which technically.. “technically”.. makes me British. I would like to apologise for our sins against horror cinema.
I have no clue why British horror movie makers do this. It sounds completely ridiculous. Not a single actor here doesn’t slip up with their accent on at least one occasion. It was the same thing in the awful Choose or Die; another British movie set in the USA. It’s not like a bunch of British tourists making pricks of themselves on holiday is an unheard of phenomenon. In fact, it is pretty much a British national pass time. It makes no sense but it is what it is. British actors, American accents, lots of slips ups and things like referring to a flashlight as a torch.
An Unlikable Cast
There really isn’t a tremendous amount to say about this one. I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly bad movie. If you know what you are getting into, Shark Bait might just scratch that specific toothy itch. But there’s also nothing to really recommend about it. It just doesn’t do a single thing differently from every other shark movie out there.
Things really get off to a bit of a shaky start purely due to the character setups. Characters are obnoxious and really difficult to care about. They start off noisily partying on the beach. One character dances provocatively before flashing her tits at her friends. Which is, oddly, cut off and not shown on screen. Why even have that scene in there? It doesn’t add anything. It just looks really odd that you chopped the shot so awkwardly to hide her “sinful” nipples. Girls flash their tits, it’s funny, big deal. If you are not going to show it, just cut it out and don’t have it.
The group, apparently, party all night. Repeatedly pressuring the virtuous main girl Nat into doing everything she doesn’t want to do. They then decide to spend the day out at sea. So set about stealing a couple of jet skis from some poor bastard trying to make a living. Things don’t go entirely according to plan. With the group crashing them while playing a game of “Who has the brain power to not smash a jet ski into the other?”. Before bobbing around in the water waiting for some interpersonal relationship drama to unfold. All the while making the viewer wonder why they should care?
Lots of Relationship Drama
As if the threat of enormous sharks circling around you like you are the entrée table at an all you can eat buffet isn’t enough. Shark Bait decides to inject a whole bunch of relationship drama. Spicing up the dynamics of the group and making a few of the characters here all the more difficult to like. I am not sure why it was felt that this was necessary. Shouldn’t we have spent the time injecting the movie with more shark related thrills? Rather than having a few characters pull faces at each other for 40 minutes? It really adds nothing at all to the movie. Sometimes even managing to detract from the looming threat of being eaten.
I mean, Shark Bait really lacks in things to get the blood pumping. The few scenes of shark related shenanigans feel like facsimiles of scenes from other similar movies. Only with less stakes and less reason to invest. The characters here have a fairly stable platform to spend the majority of the movie floating around on. They rarely enter the water. And, when they do, it’s difficult to give a crap whether they get eaten or not. In fact, the shark feels like the good guy in this movie. Especially given the obnoxiousness of our cast.
It’s really down to main girl Nat, played by Holly Earl, to give the viewer something to latch onto. She’s the only character with any depth and the only likable one of the bunch. It’s Nat that spends the majority of the movie taking risks and jumping into the water. And it’s Nat that the viewer is most likely to sympathise with. Whether this is a reflection of the director being aware that most of the other characters suck pretty hard or not, I am not sure. But it is a stark indictment of the rest of the characters here. They literally end up being nothing more than shark bait.
Low Adrenaline “Thrills”
The biggest problem here is the lack of actual shark related horror fun. There is just not that much. In fact, I would go as far to say the shark feels like something of an opening act rather than the main event. It is secondary to the relationships between the characters and the woes of people slowly bleeding to death. Whether this is due to lack of creativity or lack of budget is up for debate. As an example, when taking screenshots of this movie, I just forward through looking for something that is spoiler free. I wanted to get a shot of the shark but one just doesn’t appear. The glimpses of it are just that fleeting.
Effects are fine. I believe the majority of the shark stuff was done with CG and it looks okay for the most part. There is some fairly awkward looking green screen at a few points. And the night time scenes are clearly filmed in a pool. But appearances by the shark aren’t exactly jarring for their quality. Which is, honestly, a pretty big win in low budget creature features. Practical effects when it comes to wounds and what not all look pretty great. Kills tend to be rather low octane and very predictable. There is virtually nothing in the way of high energy pursuits or creative set pieces. It’s all very predictable and, generally speaking, lacking in thrills.
As I said earlier, though. Shark Bait really isn’t a bad film. It’s just a very middle of the road shark movie. There isn’t much to separate it from its compatriots. It doesn’t stand out and it is a little bit low energy. With a larger cast and some more creativity. It could have been pretty good. But as it stands its just another shark film. Fitting if that is what you are looking for. But definitely not one of the best.
Acting is Okay
I should point out that, once again, much like with Captive, we have a bunch of 30 somethings playing younger versions of themselves. Despite looking way too old to be stealing jet skis and acting like children. Sorry Gen Z, us millennials are letting you down by not casting you in horror. It all feels a bit weird.
Acting is, pretty much, what you would expect from a movie like this. Holly Earl, as Nat, is probably the most competent of the group. She does well with her accent, rarely faltering, and makes for a likable protagonist. Earl feels believable and she looked like she had come into this movie in tremendous shape. Obviously taking the demands of the role very seriously. I enjoyed her performance and would like to see her in more horror movies in the future. Jack Trueman is fine. He is convincing for much of the movie but his character is an unlikable douche. Likewise for Thomas Flynn as Greg. He does a very nice job of suitably conveying the trauma his character goes through.
Malachi Pullar-Latchman, as Tyler, struggles badly with the American accent. It’s a major distraction and, at times, makes him fairly difficult to understand. He is fine, other than that, though in a very limited role. Catherine Hannay manages to feel awkward in nearly every part of the movie. Whether it’s being the provocative sex kitten or the damsel in distress. Nothing really fits and she doesn’t do particularly well at any of it. Her accent is all over the place, as well. Unfortunately, this is just an incredibly unlikable cast of characters. The actors didn’t have much to work with at all.
James Nunn’s direction is okay. There are some shot inconsistencies here and there. Characters will be dry one minute and soaking wet the next. Some of the shots detract from the tension a little. There are a few goofs here and there as well. It’s nothing too detrimental to the movie, though. The script, on the other hand, is a different story. It’s very lacklustre and, to be honest, just plain awful at times.
Final Thoughts and Score
If you are looking for a shark movie and you aren’t bothered about innovation or creativity. Shark Bait will probably be fine. It has a shark in it. Some people get eaten. There is a lot of swimming. If you want something more from this type of movie, however. This will leave you wanting. It just doesn’t do anything at all new with the formula. Feeling like any other shark movie out there. Acting is okay, direction is fine, effects can be okay. It is exactly what you might expect.
It’s just not that thrilling and the unlikable cast makes it difficult to invest in the characters. Scenes feel like they repeat themselves. Far too much focus is placed on interpersonal drama. And the story is pretty lacking in parts. Not a terrible movie, but not an easy recommend. You really have to be looking for a shark movie and not too fussed about quality.
If long ass reviews are your kind of thing then you should probably stick around. Especially if you are looking for a site that does things a bit differently. Why not read some more horror reviews? I also put together Horror Movie Lists and spend way too long explaining horror movie endings. There are two more movies to go in our Horror on Tubi feature. Will they change the tides or are we doomed to sink?