Bait 3D

Year: 2012
Production Co: Bait Productions
Director: Kimble Rendall
Writer: Duncan Kennedy/Justin Monjo/Russell Mulcahy/Shane Krause/Shayne Armstrong
Cast: Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Julian McMahon, Dan Wyllie, Phoebe Tonkin, Lincoln Lewis

One of the Rush Hour movies features a wealthy Asian businessman who loses all his money when he fancies himself a movie star, even though he's a weedy, aged Asian man. There's a shot of the standee for the movie that loses his fortune, dressed like Rambo but looking like that Rocky XXXVIII poster from Flying High: The Sequel.

When Bait 3D was over that's what I thought of. It was apparently a joint Singaporean/Australian production, and I could just see the mobile phone or Hello Kitty store franchise mogul who wanted to get into the movies. He had a cousin who owned a shopping centre on the Gold Coast so he bankrolled a bunch of second-rate Australian music video makers to write a script and shoot a film.

The above might be an overly harsh assessment, except that the result is so laughably bad and so full of glaring cliches it's hard to imagine the movie coming into being any other way.

I feel sorriest for some genuinely talented actors like Xavier Samuel and Julian McMahon who have no choice but to appear in dreck like this every now and then just because they want to stay in a country where there's not enough of an industry to sustain their careers.

The concept is actually as cool as it is silly. When a tsunami strikes Surfer's Paradise, the staff and customers of a swamped shopping centre are trapped inside, and it's while they're only just gathering their wits they realise there's a 12 foot great white shark in there with them.

The movie goes from the predicament of one group to the next, each characterisation more slender than the rest, and follows the time-honoured Alien template, everyone with a number flashing over their heads according to the order they'll due in, except for the humble and vulnerable hero.

But it's an unapologetically B movie, as plenty of scenes make plain, so that means little that goes on is realistic, and the director and actors keep that in mind as well.

The problem is that along with the Z-grade approach, the narrative isn't as slick as it needs to be to carry you along on the joke. When it turns out there are actually two sharks – one in the carpark basement level and one up in the store level – I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be a surprise or whether it was obvious from the get go.

Make sure you're in a very forgiving mood, don't expect Dawn of the Dead -level gore, and knock yourself out.

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