There seems to be a glut of shark movies of late, which not something I though I’d say about shark movies. Led by The Asylum, who are taking time off from ripping off blockbusters to create a franchise from their surprise hit Sharknado, there seems to be no end in sight for this b-movie trend. The problem is that instead of embracing inherently trashy nature of making a low budget picture about a killer shark, Asylum and co. are trying to make purposefully bad movies — very fine and often disappointing line to tread. Griff Furst’s Ghost Shark gets ahead of the pack by having fun with its central premise and not trying so hard to become the next cult classic.
USA, 2013, Griff Furst
The story is as generic as a horror movie can possibly get. The film opens with a couple of rednecks out in the ocean for a fishing competition. Just as one is about to land the prize-winning fish, a shark eats it. The rednecks get mad and kill the shark, which swims into a mystical cave before it dies. Now it’s a ghost shark — cue mayhem. Oh, and did I mention they say ‘smile you son of a bitch’ before blowing the shark up with a grenade? You know, because Jaws.
After that, we meet our protagonists — a bunch of beach-going teenagers whose names I already don’t remember. One of the teens is eaten by the ghost shark, which in true horror fashion is the slutty one, and they know it was something out of the ordinary. But, guess what, the police officer on the scene doesn’t believe them. Neither does the black teen’s dad, who is a politician of some kind. Now they must investigate on their own.
What follows is a series of shark attacks that the teens witness and the stuffy, skeptical adults dismiss afterwards. This is despite multiple pieces of video footage showing a glowing blue, translucent shark being shown to them. Unless in the movie’s world the shark looks like a crappy CGI shark to them instead of a real one. Hmm, that’s something to think about.
The shark attacks are the star attraction here, as they should be, and they don’t disappoint. Yes, it is mostly dodgy CGI, but this is made up for by the shark’s special ability — it can appear in any body of water, no matter how small. You may have seen this scene of Ghost Shark appearing in a slip ‘n’ slide.
There’s more where that came from. That part of the movie alone features Ghost Shark attacking from kitchen sink plumbing and a bucket from a bikini car wash.
There is a real sense of fun in these scenes, and it really makes the movie. I can imagine the writers sitting around thinking ‘so where else we can we put a shark?’ It’s just a shame there aren’t more shark scenes in the middle, where the film really slumps. As is the case in a lot of mow budget films, the good stuff is saved for the end and the underwhelming story takes over the second act. The only real redeeming part of the non-shark bits is Richard Moll, who chews up the scenery as the cranky lighthouse keeper who knows about the ghost shark and reluctantly helps out the teens in the end. I told you it was cliched as hell.
And as for the doubting Thomases? They only see the ghost shark is real after the shark hides in someone’s coffee cup and bursts out of them. Then they go hunt the shark. You know, like in Jaws.
In the end, the shark action picks up again and there’s a satisfying final showdown, resulting in an above average modern shark movie that has moments of greatness (see picture above) but doesn’t break the mold.
Ghost Shark is entirely CGI, and not good CGI at that — standard stuff these days. But the glow and translucent effect slightly disguises the crappiness. But as I said before, Ghost Shark’s special powers makes up for the CG laziness. The shark’s kills are goofy fun and full of terrible digital gore.
Side note: I wonder if it really is that expensive to create good CGI sharks? Surely the production companies would get their money’s worth?
Ghost Shark is available on DVD and blu-ray for cheaps on Amazon