We’ve had Snakes on a Plane, now it’s time for sharks in a supermarket. Wait… what? No, that’s not a typo but the premise of Bait, directed by Kimble Rendall and the latest animal attack horror film to come out of Australia’s fine tradition of ozploitation cinema.
After a tidal wave hits a seaside town, a supermarket and underground car park are flooded, trapping an assorted bunch of folk in along with two big-ass nasty great white sharks. My first impression on hearing of Bait was “how can this possibly be bad?” After seeing the film, I’m sticking with the same general sentiment, a few gripes notwithstanding….
First up, you need to be a fan of the genre to even start liking this film. That is, everything you except from a low budget animal attack horror film is here – typecast characters in largely implausible situations, making questionable decisions; seriously cheesy effects; seriously gross mutilated body part shots; and at times, appalling acting and an often equally appalling script.
Sure, Bait is a bad movie. But it’s a good bad movie.
Here’s the set up – lifeguard, Josh (Xavier Samuel), is still recovering from some nasty shark business that occurred at the beginning of the film. He’s taken a new job in the supermarket and just when he thinks things are at their lowest, his ex-fiancée, Tina (Sharni Vinson) turns up with her new beau. Meanwhile, teen delinquent Jaimie (Phoebe Tonkin) is being arrested for shoplifting by her cop father, Todd (Martin Sacks). And while all this is going on, Doyle (Julian McMahon) and Kirby (Dan Wyllie) are holding up the joint at gun point. Then the tsunami hits, trapping all of the above, and a couple of other supermarket employees, upstairs in the market, and stranding Jaimie’s boyfriend, Ryan (Alex Russell) downstairs in the car park along with Kyle and Heather (Lincoln Lewis, Cariba Heine) who were just down there for a quick shag in the car – with Heather’s little Pomeranian sitting in the back seat. Shark attacks ensue. Escapes are attempted. Characters argue. Characters die. More shark attacks. And so on.
I watched this in 2D (not being a fan of the 3D format at all), and there are more than a few scenes that were obviously put together for maximum 3D effect. These are mostly slathering attack shots and lose none of their cheesy intent in the 2D format.
My biggest gripe of the film is why they had to move from safety and risk the sharks in the first place. Sure, they say the water is rising and there is the threat of another wave, but these threats are only ever mentioned in the beginning and we never actually see the water level change. If the danger was more obviously pressing, compounding drowning along with death by shark, tensions would have heightened and Bait would have been a stronger film for it.
I was pleased to see Dan Wyllie pop his head up as the baddie, although I have no idea what he was attempting to do with that ridiculous Aussie accent he was putting on – it’s not like he doesn’t already have a thick Australian accent. I sincerely hope he was hamming it up for laughs, because that’s what he got out of me.
Sharks have established themselves as the forerunners in the animal horror genre – “sharksploitation” has been kicking around for a few years as a label I’ll happily apply here – and Australian filmmakers have done well with it before (see The Reef ). This country has so many nasty critters, it’s no wonder we make these films so damn well.
If purposely B-Grade animal horror is your thing, then Bait shouldn’t disappoint. In fact, for my money it actively impresses. Just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see from a shark attack film, look out, they’re in the supermarket. Oh and thanks, filmmakers, for letting the dog live.