Australia ships back a couple of it’s thriving exports, and revives the directing career of a local steady, for this hokey but entertaining ‘Jaws-in-a-Supermarket ‘corker.
Directed by musician cum filmmaker Kimble Rendall (”Cut”), and featuring the recognizable mugs of recent Hollywood hires Julian McMahon and Xavier Samuel, Bait is a genre effort that’s unquestionably ‘fin’ on characterization and plot, but certainly not without some fun, imaginative death scenarios and a plethora of effects work.
Set within a supermarket (and it’s neighboring underground car-park) on the coast, Bait ponders the often-asked question ‘Shit mate, what would you do if this Coles suddenly overflowed with water and a giant 12-foot-shark started swimming through the door!?’.
The Australian/Singapore co-production, which is more concept than creation, is a bit of enjoyable fluff that splashes about in the so-bad-it’s-good terrain that so many films in this genre do. You know the type? most of the dialogue in them are usually frightful, plot points are insolently ridiculous, the money shots are cheap, and the content alone could never be any match for the model behind it- in this case, a 12-foot shark stalks a group of people stuck in a waterlogged underground supermarket. But what works for ”Bait”, keeping it from sinking to the anchor of D-grade ”Piranha” knock-off territory, is the effective, sardonic and wink-wink script by Russell Mulcahy, a man whose done more for ham than Don’s.
Mulcahy, who gave Australia one of its most famous ridiculously B-monster movies in ’80s classic ”Razorback”, is a perfect match for the high-concept project, serving up equal lashings of daggy dialogue with fierce but also fun (and funny) death sequences. He and director Kimble Rendall, the musician cum filmmaker who made his feature debut in genre stab ”Cut” about a decade ago and has since spent most of his time working the second-unit cameras on other people’s work, clearly went into the thing knowing what kind of movie they wanted to make —- something teens would check out, with a half spiked bottle of Coke, via a multiplex late session.
The creatives have made a film for a specific target audience, and as that, it delivers. Forgetting the critics that’ll lament them from synopsis onwards anyway, those behind Bait have welcomingly substituted the substance in favour of silly scares and, in this case, a freezer room full of sea-creature-ravaged body parts. And that, my 15-year-old video-game playing friend tells me, is all they want.
”Bait” also has a fairly unique concept, and that might help draw in a broader segment outside the main demo.
Xavier Samuel, definitely on his way to becoming more of a presence in Hollywood following his stint in the recent ”Twilight” movie, ”Eclipse”, makes for a likeable tween hero; Sharni Vinson is an easy to champion heroine, while the elder statesmen of the group, McMahon, as one of the better written and more interesting characters (a nice-guy crook), and Martin Sacks (as a cop), still regarded as one of Australia’s most underrated performers (largely because he’s been stuck in series television for the better part of his career), add – dare I say – ‘class’ to what’s unarguably a fairly waterlogged affair.
It’s merely a tadpole when compared with some of the other fish in the cinematic sea, but ”Bait” – shot effectively in 3D – still rightfully earns a spot within the tidal wave of sea-monster fare that’s kept kids cashless and cacking themselves since the days of ”It Came from Beneath the Sea” and ”Attack of the Crab Monsters”.