Baddie – Circumstance.
Lesson – Try not to get trapped in a grocery store with a shark.
When we were in college, James and I made a lot of jokes about weird monster hybrids. One of these was ‘Sharkgurt: Lactose isn’t the only dangerous thing in the dairy isle’. So you can imagine my delight when I found out there was a movie about a shark in a grocery store. Then I found out this movie is also Australian, which made me even happier, because I have a pretty good track record with Australian horror.
The movie opens with a great white shark taking the life of our lifeguard’s friend/fiancee’s brother. This results in lifeguard and his fiancee breaking up, presumably because that is some tough stuff to go through and also she has to move to Singapore. This shark attack is not at all related to the real film, mind you, it’s just part of the backstory.
The main premise of Bait is there’s a tsunami that floods most of whatever part of Australia they’re in, and everyone gets trapped in the grocery store or the carpark (that’s a parking garage for all us yanks) below. Right before the tsunami, we learn a few things. One is that Josh has embraced the single life by getting a job at the supermarket. Also, Tina, the ex, is back in town with her new boy from Singapore. There’s also a girl, Jamie, and her boyfriend, who she’s gotten fired because she’s a klepto with mommy issues. Her dad is a cop, and he shows up to arrest her. There’s also a heist in progress featuring Doyle and Kirby. If Doyle looks familiar, it’s because it’s COLE FROM “CHARMED.” Things get complicated further by the presence of two large great white sharks who are apparently not pleased to be stuck in the store either. Someone never told these sharks not to go to the grocery store when you’re hungry.
So, all in all, Bait is a pretty decent little movie. The non-shark plots were engaging for the most part if a bit superfluous, but the set-up was effective. There is satisfactory gore and horror. The shark is pretty present the whole film, which is interesting. Feels a lot like Deep Blue Sea in that regard. This film also features an extremely minimal soundtrack, which made a lot of scenes feel empty and singular. Very nicely done.
I’m pretty confident that they had at least one animatronic shark for this film, because they use the shark a lot and it doesn’t look very CGI for the most part. There is also a fair amount of simple practical effects, and I have to say, when these are used well, they really accomplish a lot. Bait currently features the BEST severed arm gag I’ve ever seen in a horror film. (Note: There is actually a guy on the left hand portion of the below screengrab)
Someone please tell me if guns can a) fire underwater and b) fire after having been underwater for a decent amount of time. I feel like I am consistently told this isn’t possible, and I constantly see it in horror films.
For all the good parts of Bait, the dialogue was not one of them. It’s clumsy and awkward, like that one kid you know who doesn’t know when a conversation is over. However, the Australian accent does a lot to help it out, as everything sounds more serious. “A shark’s only curious about one thing. It’s trying to decide if we’re food or not.” says the grungiest guy around, but still sounds so legit.
Some of the more serious deaths are not shark related. Australians love their situational horror. Really. Bait follows the familiar ‘throw people into an intense situation and see how they cope’. Some people do better than others. Some people experience exponential growth. Some people crumble. Some people stoop to using a dog as bait. “You’re a dog murderer. That’s worse than a person murderer.”
WELL, Australia, you maintain your streak of passable horror films. Way to produce a well-filmed (pretty cinematography!) movie about people filled with mediocre dialogue and decent premise. Someday I’ll see the 2-Headed Shark Attack of Australia. Someday.
The credits roll to this gem, and I couldn’t not include it. It’s so literal.