A little chum

Shark Bait

2022 | 87min

Dir. James Nunn

Shark Bait asks a very common horror genre question: What if a bunch of young, good looking people without the skills to survive an untied shoestring were all of a sudden in a situation with a high probability of death? Sometimes this means they’re at a summer camp and an abnormally violent hockey goalie (or his mum!) is stalking them like in Friday the 13th. Sometimes a knife wielding incel with daddy issues starts going after his schoolmates like in Scream. And sometimes, like in Shark Bait, a bunch of annoying tourists find out the consequence of their actions is a very hungry shark.

Shark Bait opens with young American tourists in Mexico partying on an ocean beach. They get drunk and the following morning decide to steal two jetskis and head out to the ocean for some drunk driving without life vests. Two of the dudes wreck the jetskis while dick measuring which leaves the three men and two women stranded far out to sea. From there it’s Humans vs. Shark until the credits roll.

Shark Bait uses a bunch of the most common horror tropes. A girl shows her breasts therefore must die because The Whores Must Be Punished! in one of horror’s more misogynist premises. No clear and obvious solutions can be pursued like: turn the other jetski over and see if it works or tie them together for a larger surface. There is even a Final Girl who develops Final Girl Skills out of nowhere, perhaps from her purity ring. 

Shark Bait also deploys the silliest part of all shark attack movies in that the filmmakers never think to ask: can sharks actually do all this? Can one adult great white shark eat five adult humans over 24 hours? Not even if it was the shark Joey Chestnut. Do great white sharks pursue speedy prey over long distances? Also no. A few species of sharks on very rare occasions, do kill and eat people. It’s hard to imagine going through something that horrible and terrifying. Yet, somehow, filmmakers do not understand that being eaten by a shark is horrible and terrifying so they have to exaggerate the shark’s capabilities to create something monstrous in its place. Less of an issue but still a scientific puzzle is: where are the remoras? You’d think in one of these shark attack movies there would be a couple of remoras scooping up people crumbs from the sharks but, nope.

Shark Bait is well shot and paced but weighed down by a bad script. The story is thematically bad, full of cliches, and odd decision making, and has British phraseology that sounds off through American accents. Usually American accents anyway. All of the actors drop their accents at some point, usually while yelling. The performances were fine, especially Cat Hannay, but sometimes it was pretty obvious that there were some gaps in their White American Non-Regional Diction practice. And really, if they had been bad actors it wouldn’t have changed all that much. There’s only so many different techniques you can use to shovel cliches. All in all, a run of the mill shark attack movie where you root for the shark a little more than in most others. Because tourists are awful.