Ghost Shark (2013)

Boo! Chomp! The Ghost Shark is coming to get us and he is PISSED!

If there was ever any doubt that the latest project, from the mad scientists over at SyFy, featured the recently-reincarnated spirit of a viciously murdered Great White, hell-bent on revenge, on the town who wronged him, then worry not, because the premise that worked oh-so-well in Jaws: The Revenge is indeed being trotted out once again, to utterly hilarious effect – but better, with a ghost.

The events of the wonderfully-titled Ghost Shark take place in fictitious Smallport, the best town name in a horror movie since Jack Frost’s Snowmanton, which is supposed to be an idyllic, seaside paradise much like the classic Amity Island. Instead, it looks exactly like what it is – some sort of dirty lake in Louisiana, where it was much cheaper to shoot than, say, Southern California.

A prologue, filmed in much the same murky, almost-darkness as that which prefaced Sharknado, shows a Great White being killed (for no apparent reason, mind) and then coming back to life, to wreak havoc on those responsible. It is later explained that, because the shark died in a particular, magical cave, he was given the opportunity to return from the dead. Sadly, there is no mention of whether the same thing works on turtles, seahorses, or other, cuddlier creatures.

The whole thing is a bit like H2O, only without mermaids, and on a more adult version of Nickelodeon (though, employing many of the same attributes). The local teenagers must then figure out how to stop the ghost shark before it kills everyone in town, even though it can pop up, quite literally, anywhere there is water.

The main thing to note about Ghost Shark is, true to its title, it knows exactly what kind of film it is, and doesn’t try, even for a moment, to be anything else. The carnage on display is of the most jaw-droppingly ridiculous variety, and the film is worth watching for it alone, especially since the premise, though diverting enough, is of little importance, considering the fact it revolves around a vengeful, phantom shark.

Director Griff Furst seems to have learned a lot from his earlier dealings with low-budget creature features, such as Swamp Shark and Lake Placid 3, choosing to present the titular beast in the most ridiculous guise possible – as a shimmering, ghostly, sort-of translucent CGI non-being that looks about as real as it should do, considering the fact it isn’t real, even in the context of the film.

Furst shares writing duties with Eric Forsberg, who was responsible for scripting both Mega Piranha and Arachnoquake and who seems to, at the very least, understand that this isn’t Jaws, and he doesn’t need to try very hard to make these characters sound real, normal, or even rational. In fact, the shark could’ve had lines, and it wouldn’t have seemed all that strange.

It’s incredibly refreshing to enjoy a film such as this for exactly what it is, without having to suffer through any aspirations to the contrary. There is no messing around with Ghost Shark, especially in comparison to the far more serious Sharknado, and it exploits its ridiculous premise to a hugely enjoyable degree.

The only wasted opportunity, so to speak, is that nothing is made of the fact that humans are mostly water. Otherwise, every opportunity is exhausted, from the shark in a fire hydrant, to a cup of water, to a toilet, and an abnormally large bathtub. The body count is high, no death is without blood and the shark is able to do pretty much everything one could imagine, given his otherworldly powers.

The acting is impressively decent throughout also, even though all of the typical caricatures are present, from the disbelieving local sheriff, to the drunk who shouts everything but clearly knows more than he is letting on. The younger cast do a fine job of making the material seem somewhat believable, and they are afforded the opportunity to acknowledge just how crazy everything is, which is very welcome here.

Much of Ghost Shark plays a bit like the Cracked video, Pool Shark, which poked fun at how ludicrous these features have become. Thankfully, there are no “Get out of the water!” moments here, because the shark is everywhere and anywhere and there is no escape, even on the loo. Even though the cinematography is a bit rubbish, and at one point, it’s sunny on one side of a truck and raining on the other, it’s impossible not to be charmed by Ghost Shark’s goofy, wonderfully low-budget sensibilities, coupled by its brazen attitude to creature features.

This bizarre, beast of a film is well worth a look, but a massive suspension of disbelief is required beforehand, aside from obviously checking one’s brain at the door.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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