Baddie – Misleading titles.
Lesson – Vacations are dangerous I guess?
Well, in a vain attempt to be a little more legitimate, I haven’t reviewed a shark movie in a long time. There’s also been kind of a lack of shark movies in general, which is kind of a shame. Then Psycho Shark swam along into my life, thanks to good old Amazon Prime. This is one of the first Japanese horror films I’ve reviewed (I know, I’m sorry), and I’m actually pretty excited. It’s also called Jaws in Japan, which I came across while reviewing the Jaws opus, but didn’t get a chance to watch until now.
The film opens with a shark attack (thankfully a subtle one), cuts to a a girl watching and re-watching the footage creepily in her room. Roll credits, and over some lilting guitar we meet Mai and Miki, two fun-loving girls on vacation somewhere in Okinawa. They are also awarded a video camera to use while staying at that particular hotel, which kind of seems like a bad omen.
The next fifteen minutes of the movie are debatably the opening to a voyeuristic Japanese porn. Mai and Miki chatter on and on about absolutely inane things and prance around the beach in their bikinis. Mai gets kinda creeped on in the shower, although it’s not clear that anyone is actually there. When she returns, Mai decides to go out to grab drinks, and then crashes some guy’s bbq and abandons her friend Miki. Miki, in turn finds the tape of the original shark attack, and then showers out of boredom while Mai attempts flirting with the one-man bbq.
Then we get to watch the original tape, which is again pretty much just ten+ minutes of idle chatter and some important cultural differences between Japanese and American teenagers and their mating rituals. Ultimately, not enough drama, not enough shark. You’re only reminded that this is a horror movie through an occasional splash of ‘oh that girl is bleeding’ flicker. It’s very strange.
At some point it is hinted that the rooms themselves are recorded, and that these tapes are some variety of currency for someone else who pays with a small silver shark figurine. It also becomes evident that Kenji, one-man bbq, is somewhat of a ploy in all of this, playing the role of adorable man-bait. Thinking not much of it, the two girls go swimming again. Mai almost gets attacked by a huge fin BUT WAIT IT’S A DREAM (just the shark attack part, to be clear). 40 minutes into this movie and we’re not showing any signs of stopping.
It is at the 45 MINUTE MARK of a 70 minute movie that something interesting happens. Namely, Kenji appears to stab one of the girls in the old video. When Miki tries to warn Mai, she can’t find the clip again because…reasons. Then Kenji shows up. Their fight escalates far enough where Mai inexplicably decides to send Miki home and stay there with Kenji. It’s a lot of drama for like, five minutes, particularly since it came out of nowhere. With twenty minutes left in the movie, it abruptly switches to the least-scary slasher movie as Kenji just kills two girls on the pier without any dialogue, or music change, or sound effects.
Now, normally I don’t like to give away spoilers, but let me help you. Do not watch this movie. It is a pointless compilation of long shots and those sort of tight-voyeur-angles that reduce the fixed into the abstract and objectified. If you want to know about what Japanese girls talk about when they’re by themselves, go talk to a Japanese girl. If you want to watch a shark movie, definitely skip this one. The shark shows up literally five minutes before the end of the movie, and it is of such stupidly large proportions that I would prefer to watch Shark Attack 3: Megalodon because it was more realistic.
Sure, I may have dabbled in filmmaking ages and eons ago, but even as an ancient amateur by the best standards – I’m pretty confident I could make this movie. All I would realistically need is a friend with some CGI skills and a day of rendering, or maybe just some shark props. Protip – if your movie is called Psycho Shark, you may want to actually feature the shark. At least have people spend the movie being threatened by the presence of a shark.
Did you know that shark populations are dwindling? This is due to fear based culling, illegal fishing, and of course, the consumption of shark fin soup. Shark Savers is trying to change global perceptions and help out the world’s shark population. There are a few options to help, everything from signing petitions, doing a dive to save sharks or spreading the word and educating people about sharks. You can also follow them on Twitter for current news, and of course you can donate.