Director: Kimble Rendell
Starring: Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Martin Sacks, Julian McMahon
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Runtime: 93 mins. Reviewed in Oct 2012
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Strong violence, blood and gore

Since Jaws in 1975, which took itself quite seriously, sea creature disaster films have become more tongue-in-cheek, often downright silly. By the time of 2011 Piranha 3D and the recent Piranha 3DD, they are so absurd that they are designed for DVD release for people to look at at home and get a gory laugh.

Bait does have some of these moments but it takes itself more seriously than usual – which makes it more watchable.

It opens on the Gold Coast, everything seeming quite normal. Before long we have a Jaws situation, with bright blood flows trickling vividly towards the camera (especially if you watch the 3D version). Then, a lapse of a year, where Josh (Xavier Samuel) has regrets about the death of his lifeguard friend and his fiancée, Tina (Sharni Vinson) moving to Singapore. (The Singapore emphasis, with some performers from there as well as technicians, comes because this is an Australian-Singapore co-production.) Josh works at a local supermarket, setting him up as a rather morose hero (memories for some of Stephen King’s The Mist).

A robbery is about to go down (as they say in America, and there are quite a lot of American twangs right through the film) when birds fly in from the sea, dogs bark, and the stillness of the air is ominous. No early warning system because a tsunami suddenly looms, sweeps over the beaches and overwhelms people, vehicles and rushes into the buildings. The car park goes almost under water and the neatness of the supermarket aisles is rocked with collapse, crashing and destruction. There are only a few survivors, characters who have been introduced during the set up in the supermarket and the car park.

If you thought that was bad for all concerned, what should be washed into the supermarket but a 12 foot shark? So, this is a Jaws variation with a small cast in a confined space. The heroics are shared around, with a character from Singapore giving his life to switch off the power source while loose wires dangle over the water. A young woman who is angry with her policeman father (Martin Sacks) – he is there too because of the robbery – does a courageous swimming feat. Meanwhile in the car park, there are three survivors – and the wrong one gets eaten by the shark. I think we would have willingly sacrificed the bird-brained (apologies to all birds), self-absorbed young woman instead! Xavier Samuel gets the opportunity to heroically face the car park shark (under water) and destroy it, while Julian McMahon (on a holiday home to Australia with his American accent) helps our hero, Josh, to the final destruction and liberation and a Poseidon Adventure-like ending – except for the final seconds where we all jump.

This is genre material, full of conventional situations adapted to a supermarket. The dialogue is often basic, not all that much attention given to finesse. Most of the performances are functional rather than dramatic. But, as this kind of entertainment goes, it is better than most others.

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