The Film: Bait (2012)
The Principles: Kimble Rendall (Director), Phoebe Tonkin, Julian McMahon, Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Aelx Russell
The Premise: After a tsunami hits Australia, the water brings in some bloodthirsty great whites and has them terrorize bargain shoppers. And you thought checkout lines were a concern.
Is It Good: No. But did you really expect it to be? Shark movies keep sinking further and further, with the only real exception in the last decade being The Reef . I think the other question that should be asked about films like this is whether it is so bad it’s good (or fun). That answer really depends on the expectations that you have going in.
I have stated before that I am a shark fan, I have filmed great white footage for a wine company promo years ago and have been fascinated by the animals since I was 4 years old. Movies like Bait do nothing but fan the flames to enforce the theory that they are the ultimate monsters of the sea. Killing machines that when they stumble across a human dumb enough to enter their domain, they strike, kill and devour them. All of them.
In reality more people die from vending machines annually then from sharks. Sharks often don’t eat all of their prey, they tear at them and take chunks at a time, and often leave the boniest sections (Human chests for example). It is the combination of electrical pulses associated with adrenaline and blood flow combined with the scent of blood that enables them to seek out their food selection.
Why do I mention these things? Because it takes 5 minutes of watching almost any nature show about sharks (Discovery Channel has dedicated weeks for anyone living under a rock) to find out most of this stuff, and if you were going to make a film, don’t you think the filmmakers would spend at least 5 minutes understanding your killing machine.
In Bait a single shark eats multiple corpses and at least 3 full human beings. A second shark eats another full human. They leave no leftovers. We also witness someone cut off a hand from a corpse and put it into the water to attract a shark from 100 feet away. This might be ok, if the movie didn’t just show 5 decaying and pulpified human remains sitting half in and half out of the water. It might also make sense that the blood leaked out of the hand so much if the corpse it was taken from wasn’t so eroded. We also see three breaches (sharks jumping out of the water), and only one had enough depth to get going fast enough to truly breach.
Now that I’m done bitching about how little thought went into the shark behavior, let me bitch about the sharks, or the craptastic CGI used to simulate sharks. 35 years ago Spielberg gave moviedom Bruce the shark, well before CGI, high def stock video footage, shark week and shark diving expeditions in Cape Town, the Great Barrier Reef and Guadalupe Island. Bruce the shark looked semi real, and even though 35 years later you can see through the seams at times, he still looks more real than most the turd films out there now. Bait looks like the Jaws video game from 10 years ago. Every time the sharks showed up on the screen, I kept waiting for a clown fish to show up looking for his son. To make things seem more like a Pixar film, the sharks all looked happy for some unknown reason. I guess if they were that full, there would be reason enough for them to be happy.
I didn’t even go into the failed robbery that was occurring as the tidal wave hit. Julian McMahan is being held at gunpoint to act in the film. That, or to rob a grocery store in the morning, because that is when they are most likely to have the most amount of money, or whatever it is they were after as this plot point is never explained or expanded. He robs when he doesn’t want to , and gets more upset when things don’t go as expected and someone gets hurt. He acts like a hero the rest of the movie, but we never understand why he was robbing the store in the beginning.
Is It Worth A Look: If you like Shark movies, you can definitely do worse. It does have some nice camp factors as well as blood and scantily clad women. All the things that made successful movies out of the campy horror of the 80s. If the movie had taken itself even less serious, it could have possibly been more fun. It takes itself too serious without enough work done to base it in reality.
I cannot say I hated the movie but wanted something so much better. The initial buzz on this made it sound really cool but it wound up becoming another soon to be forgotten addition to the genre. The cast is one of the biggest highlights, including the leads from The Loved Ones and Chronicle, as well as Dr Doom.
I would place this somewhere between Deep Blue Sea and Shark Night. The deaths and effects resembling the latter while the direction and tension more similar to the former. If you are really looking for a good shark film though I would stick with what I would call the top 3 – Jaws , The Reef and Jaws II
Bait was produced by the director of the 1984 Jaws as a pig film, Razorback.
Cinematic Soulmates:Shark Night, Deep Blue Sea