DIRECTOR Sheldon Wilson WRITER Richard Beattie; Sheldon Wilson STARS Derek Theler; Erica Cerra; Paul du Toit DVD 20 July
It’s a (probably valid) argument to say that, following the release in 1975 of Jaws there’s not much point in making cinema about sharks, for two reasons. One, it’s impossible to top the terror and tension of Spielberg’s masterpiece. Two, there’s not really a great deal you can do with them.
Our low-budget friends at The Asylum have gone down the beyond ridiculous Sharknado-style route, because genetically-modified flying fish is really the only avenue left in this genre. Sadly, Sheldon Wilson has pitched his effort firmly in as an adventure-comedy that could have come straight from the 1980s, and has kept things fairly serious for most of the running time. As such there’s really not a lot going for it aside from some nice cinematography and a few throwaway one-liners.
The one plus point, and the source of the humour, is Derek Theler as fearless shark hunter, Chase Walker. The hokum plot finds Walker recruited by a crime boss to track and kill a shark that has feasted on an associate whom happens to have a priceless diamond on his person, and now lies in the belly of the beast. Retrieving the rock is the least of Walker’s problems, as a hunt for the diamond brings plenty of action, a little romance, and a showdown with the remorseless Great White.
Theler is a potential breakout star in the making, with a style and look similar to current Hollywood golden boy Chris Pratt, and he plays Walker with tongue firmly in cheek, excelling in fight scenes and looking good while he does it. Perfect action-star material. But Shark Killer is built around him, and the remaining cast are pretty but can’t compete. Neither can the production, which is done cheaply with very little sense of scale or excitement, and being made for network TV has little in the way of the standard exploitation staples — gore; nudity; violence — that would have perked it up.
Wilson is clearly going for a Romancing the Stone type romp, but is way off the mark in terms of style and suspense. And with a budget this low, Shark Killer could never look anything but cheap. Worth seeing purely for Theler, but don’t go out of your way; this guy will turn up elsewhere for sure, hopefully with a better vehicle.