10th Apr2013

‘Bait’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Julian McMahon, Phoebe Tonkin, Alex Russell, Dan Wyllie, Lincoln Lewis, Cariba Heine | Written by John Kim, Russell Mulcahy | Directed by Kimble Rendall

bait-3d

In a sleepy Australian beach community shoppers at the underground Oceania supermarket are under attack by a crazed bandit. Suddenly, the unimaginable happens. A monster freak tsunami swallows up the town hook, line and sinker. Now trapped, with rushing waves threatening to entomb them in a watery grave, the survivors discover they are not alone. For the tsunami has brought unwanted visitors up from the depths. Not only must they overcome the threat of drowning and the psycho robber in their midst, but also a hazard far more deadly and bloodthirsty – a pack of hungry sharks.

Jaws has a lot to answer for. Today it seems shark movies are a dime a dozen, from big budget Hollywood films like Deep Blue Sea and Open Water, to low-budget, straight to DVD fare such as Blood Surf, Megalodon and Sharktopous. And the Syfy channel seem to commission new shark flicks every other week! However it’s not just Hollywood that has a fascination with the demons of the deep, Australia has recently discovered it’s love for all things shark, with Andrew Traucki’s 2010 effort The Reef, which brought true-to-life terror back to the ocean, and now Bait (or Bait 3D to give the film its full title), which goes the exploitation route but on a bigger and better scale than say, The Asylum’s recent shark flicks.

Director Kimble Rendall first came to my attention for his Y2k slasher movie Cut, which starred former brat-packer Molly Ringwald and Aussie singer Kylie Minogue in a post-Scream horror that, like many of the time, played with the conventions of the genre in an “ironic” way. Since then Rendall has cut (pardon the pun) his teeth as a second unit director on a number of big-budget Hollywood action flicks including the two Matrix sequels, Ghost Rider, I Robot and the recent Jason Stathma flick Killer Elite. Bait marks his return to the directors chair (at least in filmic terms – he did direct episodes of the Aussie comedy Jesters) and what a return. Showing just how to shoot a “nature gone wild” flick, Rendall has a fantastic eye for the eerie – from the moment we see a huge flock of birds fleeing… something, to the fantastic tidal wave and the devastation it causes and the frankly creepy underwater scenes with dead bodies floating past the camera as the action plays out in the background.

Of course being a modern shark movie there’s a reliance on CG for the sharks, but thankfully Rendall’s use of CGI in this case works perfectly to both enhance the physical prowess of the sharks in the movie and convey the 3D aspect of the film and even in 2D the forced perspective shots of the sharks jumping out of the water and into the camera look awesome. I have no doubt that there will be plenty of people who decry the over-use of CG in a film like this, but me? I didn’t mind the over abundance of computer-generated sea creatures in the film (which is a first for me to be honest) as it was all done so bloody well and blended in perfectly with the exploitation aspect of the film. After all, what’s a giant killer shark movie without a scary-looking giant killer shark?

A slice of cinematic cheese – the good kind I may add - Bait is not a film to be taken seriously, which is probably why a number of my fellow critics just didn’t “get” the film. Hey it’s not high-art, and it’s certainly not Jaws, but the film is a fantastic man vs. nature flick that throws in some Dawn of the Dead-esque tropes in it’s tale of shoppers stuck in a water-logged basement supermarket with two 12 foot great whites!

Bait is released on DVD and 3D Blu-ray on April 29th.

**** 4/5

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