“Tyler, no! You took a bang to the head!” “That might be a problem if there was something inside of there!” So goes an almighty self-own when one of five spring-breakers trapped on a jetski in shark-infested waters decides to swim for help in this depressingly unimaginative thriller. The party posse-cum-human chum bucket in this carnivorous outing are so moronic that the intro in which they twerk, chug beers and hijack motorised watercraft while roaring “Ride or die!” resembles the legendary Zoolander petrol fight without the satire.
In answer to their war-cry, they mostly die. After sensibly playing jetski chicken, the fatuous five find themselves crammed on a single stalled machine drifting out to sea – and Greg (Thomas Flynn) has a broken leg. Tensions rise when it turns out the vampish Milly (Catherine Hannay) slept with jock Tom (Jack Trueman) the previous night, behind the back of his girlfriend Nat (Holly Earl). We know Nat is a good person because she’s the only one of these gringos who speaks Spanish but back on dry land, she failed to heed the warning of the double-amputee about the local aquafauna. And matters take a turn when the valiant Tyler (Malachi Pullar-Latchman) front-crawls off, and a dorsal fin saunters into view behind him like a piscine Alfred Hitchcock.
Tradition of course demands that the pert teen sacrifices in such gore fodder be satisfyingly dislikable. It isn’t easy, though, to make stupidity interesting, and Shark Bait is always one-note in its exploitation of its characters. A series of feeble shocks and reversals, it lacks any tension or finesse in why it repeatedly drags them back under, compared with the likes of the more inventive Open Water or The Shallows. It doesn’t help that there is more charisma in the shark’s cold dead eye than in the entire cast. Maybe what the whole hoary peril-in-the-water genre needs is a shake-up via a film from the shark’s point of view; a kind of deep sea Maleficent. The movement for better shark representation starts here: #oscarssobite
Shark Bait is available on digital platforms from 6 June.