Shark Lake (2015)
Dir.: Jerry Dugan
Cinema 4 Rating: 3/9
Shark species: Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas)
Hero species: Dolph Lundgren (Wearius longindatoothinas)
I suppose that if one were to assign a particular shark species to the actor Dolph Lundgren, a bull shark might be a fairly decent choice. Known for their tenacity and aggressive behavior, the bull shark with its tough guy physique and unstoppable bite force seems to be a perfect parallel to action star Lundgren, now pushing sixty and hanging by his fingertips onto whatever he has left of a Hollywood career. This struggle seems to include appearing in films of the caliber of Shark Lake, where Dolph crosses paths -- in Lake Tahoe, of all places -- with that very same bull shark.
That's right... Lake Tahoe. One might at first do an extremely comedic double-take upon hearing that this alpine-style lake on the California-Nevada border is being mentioned in connection with a film about bull shark attacks. But one has to remember that while shark films are loaded generally with massive leaps in logic, of the relatively few sharks that could, given the proper scenario, conceivably live and thrive in such a lake, the bull shark is the species that would likely pull it off the best.
|Sara Malakul Lane with|
Lily Brooks O'Briant.
|Our big opening clue as to the villain of the film...|
besides the title, that is...
The film will be built around this moment: when the shark supposedly goes in the water. But the director gives us no help in this matter. While we could ascertain that Gray is an animal smuggler from the evidence of the cages in his home, he could also just be an animal enthusiast with a series of pets beyond the norm. For all we know going into the story, Gray is just a guy on the wrong side of the law, his alleged crimes wholly unmentioned by the police. We don't know anything about the shark, not even a clue. The first time we know there might be a shark in the film is in the title; the second is when we see the shadowed outline of the shark in the water behind Gray.
|No joke... his missing arm will turn up on the bottom|
of the lake to be discovered by a diver. The shark
doesn't even eat it. Sharks hate old people.
|"Here, let me just gum ya for a bit!"|
|"This would be even more delicious if I were|
actually in the same shot as this guy!"
But we do have to deal with that shark attack action, and this is where Shark Lake is not just at its weakest, but actually serves as a fairly poor example of the genre. From this point forward, in the most steadfast of shark (and monster) attack films, Shark Lake will give us a series of scenes involving locals and tourists coming into deadly contact with the shark, with the usual gradual increase in our viewing of the creature as the attacks progress. It's an accepted storytelling cliche, but things are so much better when the shark scenes that follow are not just sloppy at best but knee-slapping ridiculous at their worst.
|...don't spray it!|
|The most effective means of fending off a bull|
shark is NOT your crotch... unless you have HPV.
|"Hey, Ma! Do I have to smile like this|
the entire time in the film?"
|The tortilla chip swirled in salsa by Randall in Clerks|
was a more believable shark fin than this
magical CGI creation.
|Sara Malakul Lane in her old day job.|
There is a point where Lane's character says, while reflecting on the death of an incidental character, "It's my fault. I shouldn't have let him come out here. We shouldn't be out here." Well, yeah... the single best way to not get attacked by sharks in a particular body of water is to not go in that water in the first place. So, you really only have yourself to blame, sister. On the other hand, you can't have a killer shark movie with someone getting killed by a shark. And unless your film is a total fantasia about sharks skipping about on dry land to munch on the populace, well, someone has to go in the water eventually. Might as well be you.
Just stay out of Lake Tahoe. The place is crawling with bull sharks. And Dolph Lundgrens.