Director: Kimble Rendall
Cast: Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Martin Sacks, Phoebe Tonkin, Alex Russell, Cariba Heine, Dan Wyllie, Adrian Pang, Lincoln Lewis and Julian McMahon
Plot: A sudden storm in Australia traps a group of shoppers in a supermarket, locking them in with two murderous Great White Sharks.
I went into Bait, with low expectations. I decided that if I am to keep doing these B-Movie Wednesday articles, then I have to embrace the shark movie, seeing as 50% of them appear to be shark-related. However, Bait didn’t seem to have much of a gimmick to it. Sure, Two Headed Shark and Phantom Shark sound like terrible films, but the names to those films embrace their B-Movie nature. Bait is a little too generic to stand in the same league – your bog standard shark kills a bunch of attractive teenagers. However, Bait wasn’t quite as bad as I expected.
For the most part, Bait actually follows the direction that I would have taken the movie. The one gimmick here is the fact that the action is kept mostly in a supermarket. For the majority of the running time, the survivors of the freak flood are trapped on the top of shelves, cut off by a hungry shark and water threatening to touch a live wire at any moment. Therefore, Bait takes the clever road and acts like a thriller. As Bait asks itself, sharks aren’t scary, so why bother trying too hard to be a horror movie? The sharks rarely show their face (with the exception of the opening scene), so the tension acts as the villain for a lot of the film. The movie is put on the clock with rising water and electric wires, so the action is always dialled up relatively high. Another clever decision was having two separate groups of survivors. The films cuts between the two, so when we get bored with one set of faces, we get some brand new people to watch try and figure a way out of this nightmare. Also, one of the key things I though was better than most B-Movies was the slower exposition. Most B-movie shark films jump to the action fairly soon, but Bait spends a long time in the supermarket before the storm. We slowly get to know the important characters, add a little story to proceedings and then, when they are confident we are familiar with everyone, the disaster movie aspects kick in. It was a touch of genius to a genre that so easily trips on these footfalls.
Sadly, while Bait does everything right, that doesn’t really mean it is any good at it. Sure, we actually get some characters we know, but half of the back stories are thinner than a sheet of damp paper and the other half are brought to life with terrible actors. The women let the side down, sadly. It is quite clear that they have been cast on their looks, rather than any acting talent they possess. To my surprise, further research told me that love interest Tina, is played by Sharni Vinson, the same actress who apparently changed the game in 2013 horror movie, You’re Next. I guess it was a dud story here and a terrible lead actor to bounce her lines off that let her down, because she is meant to be pretty capable. Thankfully, the best actor here, Julian McMahon, is given the best role, but it never seems to matter, because as soon as the sharks attack, all development is abandoned. There is one guy who just appears out of nowhere and hardly says a word. We are left waiting for him to do something, but when he finally opens his mouth, the worst Australian accent I’ve ever heard comes out of it, which was actually the most accidentally funny part of the movie. While Bait almost salvages a decent movie, it is the terrible cast and weak script that knocks it back to square one.
Winning me back are the small details. For one, as far as CGI sharks go, Bait actually achieves a respectable finished product. It still begs the question how hard can it be to make a decent animated shark, when we are given masterpieces in ‘Pacific Rim’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’, but it is hardly embarrassingly terrible like with ‘Sharknado’ and any of the Jaws sequels. In fact, it actually grabs that sinister movement that the film needs to work. A surprise positive were the bickering couple (with the water-tight car – don’t ask!). This is usually the scourge of all horror flicks, but the humour is good enough to work and at least creates a douchebag bloke character we want to see murdered gruesomely. Finally, there is a pretty fun twist. Sure, I saw it coming, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate it. It gives the climax the actual sense of a climax, especially when the film threatens to run out of ideas.
Final Verdict: Weighed down by weak characters and even weaker actors, but as far as Shark thrillers go, Bait could have been a lot worse.