(2011)2.5Jeremy WheelerWith films such as 2-Headed Shark Attack and Sand Sharks propelling sharksploitation cinema into cheaper and more absurd territory, it's refreshing to see decent shark flicks still being made on a modest budget, as is the case with the Australian sharks-in-a-grocery-store shlocker Bait. Featuring no has-been actors, real flooded sets, and a competent visual scheme, this terror-in-the-water outing effectively sets itself apart from most other shark movies made in the last ten years. Although the hook is cheesy, the film's surprisingly serious tone ranks a few notches below the harshness of Open Water and The Reef, but shooting for far more dramatics than, say, Jersey Shore Shark Attack. This balance allows for more than its share of outrageous moments without selling out to rehashed Jaws clichés.
Bait does sport a real barn burner of a wild plot in the form of a powerful tsunami that sends the ocean waters rushing into an underground supermarket in the middle of a robbery, prompting the terrified shoppers and gunmen alike to fight for their lives as vicious, man-eating sharks flood into the shopping center. Trapped by debris, the survivors put aside their differences as the shark-filled waters rise toward them each minute. Cast-wise, Julian McMahon might have top billing as the criminal antihero, but it's rising star Xavier Samuel who heads up the picture as a former lifeguard out to save his own skin as well as his girlfriend (Step Up 3D's Sharni Vinson). Even Alex Russell, the second lead from the surprise-hit found-footage film Chronicle, makes an appearance as the best friend who gets stuck in a flooded parking garage.
The shopping center and garage comprise the two main sets in the film, which allow for some inspired shots (the sharks swimming around a car as a Valley girl and her surfer-dude boyfriend watch from inside comes to mind). While it would have been nice to have seen a shark attacking someone trapped in the freezers that half of the characters are standing on, Bait still gets points for going the extra mile (Taser gun, anyone?). Horror geeks will delight in some of the inspired gore, while B-movie fans will dig one character's hilarious "plan" to turn the electricity off. Yes, the picture could use less straight-faced drama, because when it does loosen the reigns, the flick is a whole lot of fun. Filmed in 3D, but not widely released as such, Bait could have pleased moviegoers if given the chance…and that's too bad, considering its love for obvious visual gimmicks. Not essential but entertaining for what it is, Horror aficionados should be plenty pleased if they turn to this one to fill their killer-fish fix.