As a tsunami batters the east coast of Australia, a small group is trapped in a supermarket. They think their biggest challenge is staying dry till rescue arrives. They haven’t reckoned on the two great white sharks that have been washed in by the wave and are now circling the dairy cabinet in a threatening manner. Strewth!
Obviously this is complete hokum, and there are signs that the film is a bit of a Frankenstein’s Monster. There are six credited writers, including Highlander director Russell Mulcahy (who was once slated to direct). The cast is ill served by a very poor script which forgets to include any remotely credible characters. The film is saddled with an incredibly boring and listless romantic subplot involving traumatised former lifeguard Josh (Samuel) and his ex-girlfriend, Tina (Vinson) – newly returned from Thailand with a new boyfriend. Well, maybe a new boyfriend – they can’t even properly establish that part. Josh is traumatised because his best friend and Tina’s brother was killed in a shark attack for which he feels unnecessarily responsible. This really doesn’t make any sense, because when the guano hits the fan, our shelf-stacking hero is immediately getting heroically moist and battling killer fish. Or maybe it is just an instantly successful aversion therapy.
The overstuffed story (perhaps the result of bolting competing screenplays together) throws in some armed robbers (somewhat lacking in ambition these guys, I mean who robs a supermarket?), because a 15-foot man-eating shark just isn’t enough. Clearly even this wasn’t enough tension, so there is a secondary plot involving newly-fired shop worker Ryan (Russell) being stuck in the parking lot with a bickering couple, a Pomeranian and another bloody shark.
For a general audience, this will be classed un-problematically as a simple bad movie. For the more refined and discerning schlock audience? Well, it’s still a bad movie, but not an un-entertaining one. Director Rendall (a former second-unit director and punk rock musician) does his best with the material, and even fashions some genuine tension and a few scares - especially in the parking lot sub-plot. As the film was intended for a 3D release, there is a lot of very cheesy CG shark action, but away from the clunky Jaws 3D-type effects, Bait has much higher production values than the standard SyFy/Asylum garbage that has dragged the name of the honest monster movie into a swamp of tedium and drowned it in its own blood.
The cast is a mixed bag. Samuel (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and The Loved Ones) and Russell (Chronicle) do their best and take matters admirably seriously, but Mc Mahon (Nip/Tuck, Dr Doom in the Fantastic Four movies) is quite dreadful. Despite being an Australian in an Australian film set in (surprise) Australia, he has decided to adopt a preposterously awful American accent. No-one else particularly stands out.
Bait is an okay time waster to accompany some shrimp from the barbie and a six pack of some awful Antipodean brew (other quality Australian beers are available, and an excellent selection of wines. They would be a bit wasted on this, though).
3D QUALTY ★★ I watched the 3D Blu-ray version and, while not painful, it’s pretty pointless. In comparison to Creature From the Black Lagoon (from 1954), the possibilities of split-screen above/below water shots is pretty wasted. It looks like a poor post-conversion. However, there are enough cheesy 3D moments to make the 2D version annoying. It’s not a disc to show off the format.
EXTRAS ★★ Slim pickings, just a trailer and a making-of featurette.