The B-Movie Bungalow Presents: Shark Night 3D (2011)

David R. Ellis

Sara Paxton - Sara Powski
Dustin Milligan - Nick
Chris Carmack - Dennis Scrim
Joel David Moore - Gordon
Sinqua Walls - Malik
Donal Logue - Sheriff Greg Sabin
Joshua Leonard - Red
Katharine McPhee - Beth
Chris Zylka - Blake
Alyssa Diaz - Maya

Genre - B-Movie/Thriller/Horror/Sharks

Running Time - 90 Minutes

Sara Powski (Sara Paxton) invites her college friends to her family lake house for some partying, boozing, sex, and whatever naughtiness they can come up with. As some of them go wakeboarding, a shark bites the arm of one of them (Sinqua Walls). They start to panic, fearing what may be inside of the lake. Every attempt they try to get help fails, leaving them helpless and hopeless. Even as the local sheriff (Donal Logue) and a couple of redneck locals (Chris Carmack and Joshua Leonard) offer their services, the sharks pick them apart one-by-one, eventually learning why the sharks are suddenly roaming that once-peaceful lake and who is behind the mess.


- Screenplay: SHARK NIGHT 3D is obviously inspired by several popular films - 1975's JAWS, 1999's DEEP BLUE SEA, and 2010's PIRANHA 3D. Hell, you get moments that originated from each of those films. The opening scene is JAWS for modern generation. The leaping sharks are from DEEP BLUE SEA. And the party atmosphere is definitely PIRANHA 3D. Unfortunately, SHARK NIGHT 3D isn't as good, or as fun, as any of those three films.

Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg write a pretty generic script that pretty much goes exactly the way in which you would expect it to. Teens party, they go into the water, a shark attacks one of them, they panic as each die one-by-one. There's nothing we haven't really seen before. The lake house is isolated. Phones have no cell service. The redneck characters are either threatening or bumbling idiots. It's like a slasher film, but with sharks swimming inside a salt-water lake.

The characters are all stereotypes. We have the hot, nice girl. We have the tattooed chick. We have the nerdy guy. We have the token black guy and the token Latina friend. We have the comic relief. We have the good-looking jock. And we have rednecks. Some of them have some depth. For example, Malik [token black guy] really loves Maya [token Latina friend] and shows it by wanting revenge on the sharks when she's a victim of an attack. Sara [hot, nice girl] and Dennis [the good-looking redneck] have a history that leads to awkward conversations and situations. Nick [the nerdy guy] likes Sara, but wonders if she'll like him back - even though he's pretty studly for a nerd. And the rednecks have their own agenda that we don't find out until the middle-to-final act. Pretty simple to follow and understand stuff. Luckily, the characters all manage to be likeable in their own way, never once coming across as annoying or idiots. Some of them are better written than others [the sheriff, in particular, is probably my favorite character due to his comical and party nature], but at least the stereotypes worked in the narrative's favor rather than take away from it.

The "twist reveal" about the sharks and why they're in this lake to begin with is easy to figure out. In fact, it's pretty silly and makes you wonder how bored the culprits had to be to come up with something over-the-top as this. Honestly, I think a film about the reveal would have been more interesting and entertaining than the film that was written. But all-in-all, it's your standard teen shark flick - stereotypical characters who get murdered by sharks, while rednecks add another threat on top of that. The dialogue is what it is and moves the story along. I wish SHARK NIGHT 3D had played the narrative in a more fun and silly way, like PIRANHA 3D did with its story. The screenplay is too serious for its own good, which hurts the film more than it helps it. Still, the script isn't totally terrible, just generic.

- Direction: David R. Ellis is a director who divides fans of his work. Ellis is behind FINAL DESTINATION 2 [I know a lot of people who favor this sequel as the best of the franchise] and 2006's SNAKES ON A PLANE [which has become a pop culture icon]. He's also behind THE FINAL DESTINATION, the worst sequel in that franchise. SHARK NIGHT 3D is slightly better than THE FINAL DESTINATION, but it isn't as fun as SNAKES ON A PLANE was.

The good thing about Ellis is that he knows how to direct action and does have visual style. The scenes with the sharks attacking the characters are well executed and are actually fun to watch. The pace is good, as the film flows really well and doesn't wear out its welcome. The CGI, while not great, is handled the best one could. The cinematography and the editing is great, especially the underwater shots. The use of fast motion was used well to get the rid of the filler stuff out of the way. Plus, Ellis focused on the hot girls and their assets - can't hate that.

Unfortunately, I feel that Ellis should have gone the way of SNAKES ON A PLANE here and just made the story visually silly. As much as it wants to be serious and cater to a PG-13 crowd, it's a B-movie and should have felt like one. The direction, save a couple of moments where sharks leap out to eat people, is too straightforward and a bit more serious than I would have liked. Ellis does direct an entertaining film here, but there was a lot more potential here to really make it fun and memorable. Not showing the gore was a big issue for me here, because a film called SHARK NIGHT pretty much promotes blood and guts. But it's still a mostly visually pleasing film. I just wish it was sillier and had more tension and suspense.

- Acting: SHARK NIGHT 3D luckily has a good cast of actors. None of them really steal the show in anyway, but they all play their roles well and come across as likeable. Sara Paxton is a very good lead actress, and looks great in a bikini. I thought Sinqua Walls as Malik was great, taking what could have been a "token black" character and gives him depth. Walls makes Malik noble, loyal, and heroic. I really liked his performance. Chris Carmack and an almost unrecognizable Joshua Leonard [from 1999's THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT] are very good as the rednecks. Donal Logue was funny and cool as the sheriff. Dustin Milligan worked for me as Nick. And former American Idol finalist, Katharine McPhee, was pretty good as Beth. And she looked smokin' hot in a bikini. Man, if she had worn that on stage, she would have won that season for sure! A good cast that does what they needed to do.

Rating - 6/10

A film called SHARK NIGHT should have a ton of violence, involving sharks chewing on and eating helpless victims swimming in the water. And we do get that. Out of a ten person cast, only two people supposedly survive. We get a detached limb. We get blood. We get small sharks chomping on someone and eating them alive. We get sharks swallowing people in mid-air. Unfortunately, SHARK NIGHT is PG-13 - meaning that the gore the film should have contained isn't shown at all. PIRANHA 3D thrived on its gory murder sequences. It's strange that a film called SHARK NIGHT would shy away from it to gain a much younger demographic [the box office didn't get set on fire, yet the film did make its budget back]. JAWS was PG at the time of its release, but it did have moments of gore. I think SHARK NIGHT should have embraced this aspect of the film, especially since it was released in 3D. I'm not saying that showing more of the violence would have helped the film in any way, but it's sort of a tease when we do see body parts getting chewed off. The violence in the film is fine for its rating, but I don't think it comes close to matching its potential for the story its trying to tell.

Rating - 5/10

Since SHARK NIGHT is PG-13, the sex aspect is barely there. We see hot girls in bikinis. We see shirtless dudes. We even get a dude's butt clearly in view, yet none for any of the ladies. What the...? Oh we get is some side boob from Katharine McPhee! Who was this film marketed to? Pretty tame stuff, even though it enjoys teasing you with things that it'll never show.

Rating - 3/10

Like I already mentioned, SHARK NIGHT takes itself more seriously than it should. The sharks look fake as hell, but there's nothing really silly about them. Some lines are dialogue are pretty funny and clever, especially the one referring to Malik and Humpty Dumpty.

However, the after-end credits is something that can NOT be missed. A rap music video directed by Dustin Milligan, performed by most of the cast summarizing the film we just watched, is nothing but brilliance. I could not stop laughing and be entertained by this. Why couldn't the rest of the film be this ridiculous? This was, hands down, the best part of the film! Cheesy as hell, but in a delicious way. SHARK NIGHT needed more of this self-awareness. Too bad it was only displayed in a four-minute music video that occurs after the actual movie.

Rating - 6/10

Total Rating - 20/40 = 2/4


It's not the greatest killer shark film ever made, but SHARK NIGHT is watchable, even if it isn't all that memorable once it's over. The direction by David R. Ellis is fine. The acting is good. The narrative is generic, but easy to follow. And the music video at the end is just fantastic. Still, SHARK NIGHT is too serious for its own good. The gore is pretty non-existent, which made the kills not mean much. The sexual aspect is tame as hell. It's a B-movie that seems to not want to be one, which is unfortunate in my opinion. Still, it's a decent time waster that's worth a rental, a Netflix stream, or a wait on cable/satellite. I've seen a lot better shark films. I've seen a lot worse shark films. SHARK NIGHT has a ton of potential, but doesn't seem to know how to use it in its favor.

2 Howls Outta 4


  1. I am not ashamned to say i liked this movie, it was a hoot of fun and cheesy sillyness, just a real great time.

    1. Don't be ashamed. It was okay for what it was. I think the rating hurt it a bit though. Should have been R. I loved the music video at the end though. Really funny.

  2. Fred, I think we might be brothers from other mothers, or something like that - once again we agree down the line - all the way to the best part of the movie - the music video! And you pegged it - it's at that moment - after the end credits - that the movie hits the silly note it should have been slamming from frame one! Great review as usual!

    1. It's very possible. Or maybe we're both Scanners. Had any nose bleeds lately? Hmmm...

      Yeah, the music video was the only part that embraced the B-movie aspect. Silly, stupid, yet fun and entertaining. The actual film itself tried too hard to be serious, especially when the premise was silly as sin. Still, I didn't mind watching it. But it's not a film I'd probably watch again anytime soon or remember about next week. It is what it is, I guess. At least it was well-made. Thanks for the comment!


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