“I REALLY HATE SHARKS!” ANOTHER ABOMINATION FROM THE ASYLUM: SHARKNADO

SHARKNADO

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Pros: I’ve actually seen worse (Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus – I’m looking at you!)

Cons: So many…oh so many

Here it is: the movie that, following in the footsteps of cinematic masterpieces like Snakes on a Plane, ignited a social media firestorm and captured the imaginations of viewers around the world…

until they watched the thing and realized it was just another Syfy Channel P.o.S.

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Continuing in the string of made-for-video creature feature trainwrecks that air continuously on Syfy Channel, 2013’s Sharknado (made – as is the case with many of the Syfy Channel moves – by The Asylum film studio) picks up a basic premise so outrageous, so unbelievably dumb that it nearly defies categorization. The story (which sort of resembles a typical zombie film in which the undead hordes are replaced with schools of sharks) concerns an aging surfer and bar-owner named (what else) Fin who, with the help of two patrons and the establishment’s plucky female bartender, goes on a quest to save his stereotypically estranged family when some rather freak weather events hit the California coast. When I say “freak weather events,” I mean a hurricane that has flooded most of the beach communities in Southern California, unleashing swarms of voracious sharks in the process. Inevitably, these sharks swimming through public streets are sucked up into waterspouts, creating the titular weather event in which cyclones of snapping shark jaws whip around through the greater Los Angeles area. Will anyone make it out of this storm unscathed, or can Fin, his (apparently) bi-polar ex-wife April, their two kids Matt and Claudia, and the shotgun-toting bartender named Nova come up with a plan stupid enough to work in a film as moronic as this one?

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That is definitely a real shark. I would know.

Believe me: I get the point of a film like this. In the era of social media and viral marketing, a film as undeniably idiotic as this is designed firstly to create a stir, not necessarily to be a “good movie.” A brief perusal of IMDB.com’s message boards relating to this film quickly revealed the obligatory thread entitled “Best. Movie. Ever.” and that’s exactly the reaction I would expect from the crowd that would appreciate this movie in the first place. It’s loud, poorly-made by any standard, and obnoxious to the extreme aside from not making one lick of sense. Thus it may be the perfect movie for generation ADD, a group of entertainment consumers who seem have little regard for the actual quality of the “entertainment” they digest: these people simply desire something to talk about or make fun of. To say that Sharknado is a bad movie is redundant; obviously, this movie was never intended to be a masterwork. Still, to see ANY viewer commending a film that is this wholly uninterested in any of the technical aspects that to me, would show some basic level of competency on the part of the film makers is shocking and somewhat disturbing.

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The infamous shark versus chainsaw moment. Classy stuff.

To put it simply, I’m not sure I could ever come up with another film that rivals Sharknado’s complete disregard for continuity or coherency: Thunder Levin’s unfocused mess of a script demonstrates that he has no mind for detail. Character motivations are extremely inconsistent: these people are focused on a single task or idea one minute which is completely forgotten the next. Story devices are highlighted and pushed to the forefront of a viewer’s attention, then abandoned right when one would think they’d be building towards some sort of climax. It’s really as if we’re watching a film that was invented on the fly based on what the visual effects crew could pump out in a few minutes time. Anthony C. Ferrante’s direction is equally abominable. There are glaring continuity errors present in this film: Southern California is a disaster area in one sequence, perfectly normal in the next. A lot of the problems here comes down to an editing scheme that’s disjointed and confusing: individual sequences have little connection to those around them. Additionally, Sharknado looks extremely drab throughout, dominated by dull, very unappealing grays. This seems an incredibly bad choice in a film that, considering the marketing scheme (and apparent target audience of young people who have low attention spans), one would hope would have been more colorful and lively.

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Stormy with a chance of shark attack.

It’s almost absurd how reliant this production is on CGI effects – the sharks, many backgrounds, gore, most of the violent weather events and rain are all created digitally, but even worse than the sheer quantity of digital effects seen is the poor quality of these visuals. Given the sheer number of made-for-video “mockbusters” pumped out by The Asylum (who by this point have to be making a killing in licensing fees considering how damn many of their godawful productions wind up on Syfy Channel), one might think this studio would have come up with some better digital effects to feature in their effects-driven films – after all, people don’t see these movies for their bravura acting or powerful scripts. Sadly, this is quite clearly not the case – these effects would have looked bad in the mid-1990s; by 2013, they’re not only completely out-of-place, but positively atrocious.

SHARKNADO…an epic struggle for survival…

Another astounding feature of Sharknado is the complete lack of imagination that went into this film’s construction. Though I’ll give Thunder Levin credit for inventing the whole “sharks in a tornado” thing which is amusing in an “I can’t believe they did that” sort of way, this film explores precisely no new territory in terms of how the story plays out. Though the context is different, most everything seen and heard in this film has been done previously – we get various, completely unnecessary family squabbles including the most ludicrous father-daughter “moment” imaginable, a hasty romance that blossoms between Nova and Matt despite the fact that the pair just met, and even crude recreations of several scenes from Jaws – a groan-inducing retelling of the Indianapolis monologue and obligatory “we need a bigger boat” remark. One of this film’s major talking points was the finale, in which Fin and his companions square off against the sharks (and tornadoes) using homemade bombs (huh?) and various lawn maintenance tools.

I have to point this out, though it’s obviously just my opinion: the fact that this film includes a scene where a man cuts himself out from the gullet of a shark with a chainsaw (thank you Evil Deaddoesn’t mean it’s automatically a “good movie.”

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The cast in this film, made up of (at best) actors of the “whatever happened to that guy” variety, includes Ian Ziering (doing a ridiculous “tough guy” impersonation as Fin), Tara Reid (looking half plowed playing Fin’s bimbo of an ex-wife), John Heard (as the shark fodder town drunk), and Australian actor Jaason Simmons (as Fin’s buddy Baz). As iffy as these performances from (somewhat) recognizable actors are, Chuck Hittinger and Aubrey Peeples as Ziering and Reid’s two children are even worse, with Peeples especially irritating as the daughter who “feels left out.” Gimme a break! The most (and perhaps only?) likable member of the cast by my count was Cassie Scerbo as Nova. Scerbo at least brings some spunk to the role and is believably rugged – I can’t say the same for the rest of these bozos.

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Terrible CGI is but one of this film’s problems.

Considering its reputation, it was alarming to me that this film wasn’t particularly fun to watch. Maybe I just couldn’t get over how awful the script, direction, acting, and effects were or how badly the overall production was handled – Sharknado truly appears to have been made by an untalented, amateur crew that was completely incapable of producing an effective feature film. This effort does have some enjoyable moments, but these seemed few and far between to me. Easily-amused viewers might experience different results than I, but in no way shape or form would this be a movie that I’d recommend. Even when taken as the outrageous trash it very much is, Sharknado is lowest common denominator entertainment. It’d probably be fun if you were piss drunk, but otherwise it seems pretty pathetic.

Widescreen DVD available from The Asylum contains no bonus features.

7/10 : A fair amount of rather extreme blood and gore, though it’s not quite the rigorous, violent assault that some films would offer.

1/10 : Some brief rough language and very minor profanity.

1/10 : Women in bikinis; brief, relatively harmless innuendo.

9/10 : A ready-made cult item that some people apparently liked; there’s already one sequel with another one in the works. Be afraid.

“We can’t just wait here for sharks to rain down on us..”

Hold on a second…SEVEN MILLION VIEWERS????

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