The island of White Sands is struggling to survive economically with tourists opting to swim elsewhere. The son of the mayor, sleazy Jimmy Green, heads back to town with the intention of saving the resort by turning it into some spring break haven, holding the Sandman Festival on the beach. Unfortunately, the decision to hold the festival coincides with a series of unexplained deaths on the beaches and the local sheriff is forced to close them with the fear that there is a dangerous animal on the loose. They soon learn that the cause of these deaths is a bunch of prehistoric sharks which are able to move through sand as easily as water. Not one to be deterred, Jimmy opts to press ahead with the festival with disastrous consequences.
Sand Sharks is every bit as goofy as it sounds and then some. The latest in a long, long line of low budget creature features from either The Asylum or The Sci-Fi Channel, if you’ve seen any of them then you’ll be in very familiar territory with this one. Truth to be told, they’re almost identikit films with only the title creatures being the variable between them. Having plundered the market for normal variations of sharks and crocodiles and totally worn out their welcomes with over-saturation, the studios mentioned now turn to prehistoric variations on the mentioned creatures. What it all boils down to is virtually the same type of killer shark film we’ve seen before, only with more of a Tremors feel to it than outright Jaws.
Spielberg’s classic is riffed on quite a lot throughout the film. Whether it just shows that the script writers are signalling where their influences lie or whether they’re just being lazy and rehashing scenes to fill out the time is another matter. The town hall scene, complete with a local ‘Quint’ who offers to kill the sharks, perhaps sums up the nature of the film best with its shameless lampooning. Jaws isn’t alone in having scenes poorly plagiarised, with the likes of Piranha and, bizarrely enough, Blood Beach also victimised. Not only is the entire film filled with scenes lifted from other films, there’s a pathetically goofy comic undercurrent running alongside. There are all sorts of one-liners, puns and sight gags strewn around and the script is full of general silliness – whether this helps the material or hinders it will entirely depend on your mindset before viewing. The feeble efforts at comedy fall flat and become somewhat embarrassing as the film progresses. Piranha 3-D this is not!
The preposterous abilities of these sharks are all rendered with the usual cheap CGI. At no point do you ever get the sense that they are swimming around in the sand – heck it’s even hard to believe that they exist in the same universe as the rest of the film. With no physical presence at all, the CGI looks tacky and what’s worse, it makes the actors look just as bad as they try to convey the sense of physicality. One of the scenes in the finale involving two characters, a confined space and the mother shark had me in stitches for all of the wrong reasons. The sharks change size from scene to the next, depending on what the story requires them to do. It’s just basic school boy error making but something which no one seems bothered with anymore. Sand Sharks is not the first, and it surely won’t be the last, of these films to vary the size of their creatures to accommodate things in the script – either change the script or cut the scene.
What’s worse is that the script has characters continually walk onto the sand when they have been standing on concrete paths. As these sharks are only too keen on leaping out of the sand like salmon, this is a bad decision on behalf of anyone who decides to venture out there. Trying to overcompensate for the lack of genuine shocks or moments of excitement, there’s a CGI gore overdose with all manner of entrails and severed heads being brought to life in not-so-believable computer-generated fashion.
It would be a poor review to not give brief mention to the cast, in particular Corin Nemec who plays the slimy Jimmy and chews every scene that he’s in. There’s a genuine spark in the scenes that he’s in but unfortunately it fails to ignite anyone else into life. It seems like a bit of effort went into developing his character though the same can’t be said for any of the other routinely-bland stereotypes and quite how anyone would believe Brooke Hogan to be some sort of scientist is beyond me.
Sand Sharks attempts to mix Jaws and Tremors with disastrously cheesy consequences. If you’re going to watch this, then chances are that you know what you’re about to get yourself for and are bracing for impact. Nothing anyone is going to say will make you change your mind.