Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012)
"Your worst fears will surface"
Drawn to the shores by illegal drilling, a swarm of aggressive bull sharks start attacking people in the waters of Seaside Heights in the run up to the 4th of July. When one of their friends is attacked and killed, the guidos and the guidettes of the Jersey Shore take it upon themselves to rid the town of its aquatic menace. The sharks are not the only thing they have to worry about as their feud with their snobbish rivals at the yacht club threatens to spoil their summer.
Upon hearing the premise, I thought that this recent frenzy of outlandish shark films had reached an ultimate low in the shape of Jersey Shore Shark Attack. Not content with the preposterous shenanigans of Super Shark, Sand Sharks, 2-Headed Shark Attack, Sharktopus and the rest of this ungodly wave of toothy terrors, the addition of a bunch of bimbos and blunder heads supposedly spoofing the stars of US reality TV Jersey Shore had me nearly smashing up my TV in disgust at the new depths that producers would go to sell their films. I’d hardly shell out cash to see another hare-brained monster movie but even less inclined to do so knowing that the screen would be filled up by a load of idiotic self-obsessed people just wanting to be famous. As a teacher, it pains me to see and hear youngsters of today hoping to become an influencer or a social media star, get some plumb gig on reality trash like Love Island and then be made for life shilling cosmetics or protein shakes as "that person from Love Island who got their tits out." I wouldn't want to endorse anything that promoted the faux-celebrity culture we have developed since the introduction of reality TV in the 90s.
I have never, nor do I have any intention to, watch Jersey Shore or any number of the fly-on-the-wall ‘real people’ docu-dramas so any preconceptions I may have had about this went totally out of the window before watching. But even I’m one to hold my hand up and admit when I’m wrong and in this case, I can hold it up a little bit. With tongue firmly in cheek, Jersey Shore Shark Attack could well be the best of the senseless, adrenaline-fuelled recent wave of killer shark flicks. Whilst the competition is admittedly weak, this one has the decency to recognise how awful it is and embrace its ludicrous concept knowing that its genre audience would likely be a lot tougher on it than usual because of its reality TV trappings.
Jersey Shore Shark Attack manages to succeed where its fellow shark films have failed in that the human characters and the story are the most entertaining bits of the film. Forget the sharks - the cast of characters here make the film. The script spends the majority of its running time poking fun at these dim-witted but well-meaning heroes as they drench themselves in fake tan, garish clothes and more hair product than a barber shop goes through in a year. From throwing protein bars into the water to try and attract sharks to attempting to hot wire a boat, these characters are dumb but likeable enough for you to want to see them survive. It’s a complete reversal of how I was expecting to feel towards them but the script makes the impossible possible! As clichéd and low brow as it is, the romantic side plot between TC and Nooki makes for engaging drama. These are truly awfully written characters but they work because of that fact. In taking themselves and the story seriously, the film works well as a comedy, and an intentional one here, not something that is so bad, it's good. There’s nothing forced here – the characters are the joke but they’re just not aware of it. This endears them to the audience, albeit in a cheap way. They're that thick, we root for them to survive.
Well at least that is true for the cast of guidos and guidettes, who grunt and screech their way through hilariously cringe-worthy dialogue. But someone forget to tell the senior actors on display, particularly the trio of William Atherton, Paul Sorvino and Jack Scalia, who all seem to be doing their hardest to treat everything as serious as possible. The different approaches don’t mesh together well, leading to one half of the film which is jokey and the other which is grim and sombre – after all, people are being killed by these sharks.
Don’t get me wrong, Jersey Shore Shark Attack is still a typical Sy Fy flick through and through and this is unfortunately its undoing. It just can’t escape the usual clichés and pitfalls, including bad CGI sharks and even worse CGI gore effects. There are sharks in this, though with the focus being on the trials and tribulations of the characters you wouldn’t have guessed it, and Jersey Shore Shark Attack follows the Jaws formula to the latter with a mayor who wants to keep the beaches open, a fake shark being caught and paraded in front of the papers and a sleazy property developer thrown in for good measure. Special effects are at their usual penny-pinching worst here with some of the worst-looking sharks to ever swim the seas. I just hope that the designers were in on the joke and didn’t intentionally make them look as poor as this.
Maybe it’s the rock bottom expectations I had when I saw this but Jersey Shore Shark Attack surprised me for being somewhat entertaining but this is solely down to the antics of the charming characters as opposed to anything else. I can’t say it was fantastic but out of the recent shark films, it’s at the top of the food chain.
Jersey Shore Shark Attack
Director(s): John Sheppard
Writer(s): Jeffrey Schenck (story by), Peter Sullivan (story by), Michael Ciminera (story & screenplay by), Richard Gnolfo (story & screenplay by), Sholom Gelt (screenplay)
Actor(s): Jack Scalia, Jeremy Luc, Joseph Russo, Daniel Booko, Alex Mauriello, Audi Resendez, Tony Sirico, Grant Harvey
Duration: 87 mins