Blu-ray Review: BAIT Proves There's Still Life In Killer Sharks
Australian film legend Russell Mucahy, director of Razorback, Highlander I & II, and much more, wrote and was initially slated to direct this latest nature run amok feature from the land down under. Ultimately he wasn't able to direct the film, but the skeleton of his story remains; Bait lists no less than six additional writers on the project, which is never a good sign. Nonetheless, Bait outruns its backstage demons and delivers a fairly solid, slickly paced, crazy killer shark adventure that racks up points for ridiculousness in my book.
The setup for Bait is pretty much irrelevant, as anyone who sees this film can tell by the trailer, poster, and all the promotional materials that it is a killer-shark-in-a-grocery-store film. There is some cursory exposition that seems to exist only to name the characters as they appear on screen, but all I could think about for the first 15 minutes was, "Where's the shark?" Thankfully, director Kimble Rendall understands what the film is about, and a sudden tsunami floods a grocery store, conveniently located below sea level, bringing all manner of sea life with it, including a pair of very hungry sharks. The ensuing survival horror film is nothing new, but the novel setting and eccentric cast of characters really lit this one up for me.
As one could probably predict, the film's script does it no favors, and while Rendall may have a loose grasp on proper pacing, he has no idea how to coax satisfactory performances from his actors. The acting is so hammy that it's almost charming, so don't go in thinking that this is anything but a goofy B-movie, because any kind of elevated expectations will probably leave you angry at the end. However, if you can enjoy a film full of semi-talented catalog models acting AT one another, you might stand a chance.
Thankfully, I'm that guy.
"But Josh," you might say, "what about the shark?" Well, the shark(s) spend precious few moments on screen, most likely due to budget restrictions. However, they make the most of their appearances, and the FX crew does a pretty good job of implying shark action where there is none. The gore in Bait occasionally reaches Piranha 3D levels, however, where that film succeeds wildly over this one is that many of the gags in Piranha are practical, whereas nearly every shark/gore shot in Bait is CG.
I've made my peace with CG, though, and I recognize that it is a way for low budget films to increase production value. The CG shark in this film isn't going to fool anyone, but as a prop, I was able to roll with it. Bait is also available in 3D in this set, and apart from a few sequences in which either body parts or entire sharks are flung at the screen, I don't see the need, but then again I rarely ever do.
Much of this review seems as though I'm damning Bait with faint praise, but I have to unequivocally report that I actually enjoyed the film much more than I expected. It's no award winner, and it won't revolutionize horror or rocket Australia to the top of the genre heap, but it's fun, bloody, and utilizes a great concept pretty well. Were there cards left on the table? Certainly. Anytime you've got seven writers on a project, even a small one like this, there are bound to be issues. However, I let myself be taken away by what story there was and simply absorbed into this hodgepodge of bloody mayhem, and it worked for me.
Bait is presented on 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray and while I'm unable (and unwilling) to be 3D capable, I can say that the standard Blu-ray presentation is very good. Anchor Bay's disc features exceptional color and contrast, and the kind of fine detail you expect from a recent release. Even better, on this film, is the booming DTS-HD MA 5.2 audio track that shook my floors. I was not expecting that kind of experience, but it's always nice to be surprised.
There are no extras worth checking out. The only thing on the disc is a set of storyboards. Not even a trailer. Lame.
Bottom line, I thought it was a fun one. If I saw this around $13 or so, I'd pick it up, but see if you can rent it first, because I can understand this not being to everyone's tastes.