Thursday, August 6, 2015

SyFy vs. The Mynd: Zombie Shark (2015)

Sisters Amber (Cassie Steele) and Sophie Steele (Sloane Coe), Ambers’s boyfriend Jenner (Ross Britz) and the sisters’ kinda-sorta friend Bridgette (Becky Andrews) are going on a weekend trip to a rather disappointing island.

Little did (or indeed could) they expect the place would soon be under attack by a shark zombie quite Jaws-ily called Bruce who does what zombies do: multiply. Bruce is the product of a tiny research lab right around the corner where one Dr. Palmer (Laura Cayouette) attempted to create useful cell regeneration properties, with sharks as the oh so obvious stand-ins for future humans. On the plus side, once the zombie sharks really attack, and people just can’t stay away from the water, Palmer’s security guy Maxwell Cage (Jason London, looking confused and rather constipated) comes in handy. Though it has to be said that Amber and Sophie are pretty handy in needless zombie fights themselves.

Sharks again, SyFy? I know, I know, sharks are to the SyFy Original movie like gorillas to Julius Schwartz edited DC comics but now that the Channel has started its misguided attempt to become “serious” again and they only crap out a handful of these films in a year, I wish less than two thirds of these were about sharks.

Particularly since the people responsible for the special effects still can’t make a believable (or just effective) CGI shark to save their lives, leaving the film’s central threat rather toothless. Not that the human zombie make-up later on (spoiler, I guess) is much better than the shark effects but then, why bother when the film has much worse problems in its so-called script. It is, for example, utterly unclear why most of the cast is taking the monsters on at all instead of just sitting somewhere, waiting. Sure, sure, there’s that one scene where a shark attacks on land, and Amber (as a waitress clearly a zombie shark logic expert) suggests that these things are as dangerous on land as in the sea, but last time I looked, and zombie shark or not, sharks aren’t terrible well adapted to moving about on land what with them being built for swimming.

Most of the film is pretty much SyFy Original shark stuff by the numbers: the cast really is one of the lesser ones, with London the best they could do with actors having hit on hard times (which is to say, not much at all), and the young actresses mostly droning their dialogue with little visible interest. Well, Steele is putting some effort in, but the film’s particularly meandering and cloying application of SyFy character background melodrama standards doesn’t exactly help her much.

On the plus side, director Misty Talley does pace the film well, and the script does contain at least one and a half surprises when it comes to character survival and death. I’d even call them subversive surprises if only they weren’t buried under so much of the usual dross, and the standard elements the film doesn’t resolve it doesn’t so much seem to leave unresolved because it is being clever, but because it simply can’t be bothered to put in effort.

However, as so many of these films are, Zombie Shark is a perfectly alright, undemanding watch for those days when you only have as much brain capacity as Jason London has facial expressions.

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