By: Brendan Graham
Horror fans love a good creature feature, from giant snakes to leeches, the idea of the animal kingdom fighting back against humans is incredibly appealing and topical. One of the most popular critters to terrorize in a horror flick with would be the shark. From Jaws, Deep Blue Sea, and more recently, 47 Meters Down, sharks have terrified generations of moviegoers and made them think twice about swimming in the ocean. GREAT WHITE, unfortunately, is too formulaic and lacks the proper bite to be considered one of the great shark films.
In the film, Charlie (Aaron Jakubenko) and Kaz (Katrina Bowden) run a charter seaplane that is struggling to stay afloat. There are talks of marriage, but financial uncertainty holds them back. A chance booking comes up, and they gladly accept. Married couple Joji (Tim Kano) and Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi) are looking to travel to a secluded beach, where Michelle’s grandfather had once been stranded. She’d like to spread his ashes on the beach to fulfill his dying wish.
Also joining them on their trip is Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka), Charlie and Kaz’s personal chef, whose presence makes Joji uncomfortable, as he seems to have an attraction to Michelle. After arriving at the beach, Not only does Charlie find out he’s going to be a father, but also the group discovers the grisly sight of a previous shark attack. After foolishly venturing to find a survivor (instead of reporting the findings to the authorities), the group gets stranded out at sea, stuck in shark-infested waters. Will they run out of supplies or will they fall victim to the mighty hunter stalking them in the seas beneath?
Right from the start, GREAT WHITE shows us how the movie is going to play out. We’ve got a couple out boating, the shark comes and attacks, they make poor decisions, and it turns into a bloody mess. The formula continues as we meet all the new characters, and it establishes who is going to survive and who is going to be shark food fairly early on. The main couple Charlie and Kaz are a mostly likable, if fairly generic couple, who are trying to keep their business afloat. Their on-screen chemistry works well and is quite believable.
Benny is supposed to be the comedic relief and he’s mostly amusing, although intentionally coming off as obnoxious sometimes. The weakest character in the movie is Joji, who is supposed to be hot-headed and arrogant, but the dialogue written for conflict scenes with him is rather childish in structure. GREAT WHITE borrows so much from other shark attack films, that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table and thus, the movie is incredibly predictable.
One of the bigger issues with GREAT WHITE is the visual effects. When we see the sharks at a distance, they look fine. Combined with some stock footage of Great Whites swimming around, most early sequences with the shark look just fine. When we get closer to our aquatic villains, we lose believability. Any time the shark attacks, we get some rough and poorly-executed CGI that only improves slightly towards the end, and by that point, we’ve reached B-movie territory. Luckily, I have a soft spot for B-movie creature features, and once I stopped taking GREAT WHITE so seriously, I managed to find some enjoyment after all.
GREAT WHITE ends up being a somewhat decent attempt at a shark attack movie, though it still struggles to get past its visual effect blunders and poor dialogue choices. But if you don’t mind the predictability and the silliness, you may find yourself having a good time.
GREAT WHITE will swim onto Shudder starting November 11.