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Shark Lake is just as hilariously awful as you would imagine a movie that proudly features DOLPH VS. SHARK as its tagline.
When Clint Gray (Dolph Lundgren) is sent to prison for black market animal trafficking, his daughter left in the care of police officer Meredith Hernandez (Sara Lane). Five years later, Clint is out and officer Hernandez is worried about what he might do to see his kid again. But it turns out something far more sinister is afoot. When he was captured, Gray accidentally released a shark in Lake Tahoa and now it’s terrorizing the small town nearby. It’s up to Gray, Hernandez and scientist Peter Mayes (Michael Aaron Milligan) to stop the shark attacks before it’s too late.
Picture this: during a poorly-edited, boring high-speed pursuit, Dolph Lundgren sends his van crashing into the lake, releasing the shark off-screen. He starts to get out of the lake, only for officer Hernandez to tell him to get on his knees. Dolph doesn’t even stop to point out that it’s silly for him to get on his knees while still in the lake and instead keeps going. Meredith shoots him, which Dolph takes in stride – he mumbles “yeah, yeah, yeah” and looks kind of bored with the whole situation.
That scene perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Shark Lake is awful in just about every sense imaginable. The writing is cringeworthy, the acting alternates between half-hearted line reading to hilariously inept and the special effects are atrocious – and it’s absolutely amazing. It’s an extremely entertaining movie for all the wrong reasons. I had to pause it every once in a while because I was laughing so hard at how stupid things could get.
It sure was nice of the sharks to wait for Gray to get out of prison before they started attacking people in the lake. Some might even ridiculously contrived. Then there’s the part where Peter, the scientist (he wears glasses and mentions having a PhD a few times) tells Meredith that the attacks couldn’t be done by bears, because bear attacks are statistically unlikely – you know, as opposed to sharks attacks. In a lake.
The sharks themselves are all CGI, as is pretty much all the gore in the movie, and since it’s pretty bad CGI, the action always feels completely disconnected and fake. In fact, the titular Dolph vs. Shark fight is, sadly, the most underwhelming part of the movie.
Dolph isn’t even really the protagonist, despite getting top billing and being featured prominently on the DVD cover. Meredith is more or less the protagonist, and Dolph just kind of tags along – and the whole thing is his fault anyway.
On a positive note, at least his character knows he’s an asshole and a bad parent. The scene where he tells Meredith he’s glad she’s taking care of his daughter, but he’d still like to be a part of her life almost resembles a nice moment between the two. If you ignore the fact that he threw another cop in the lake full of sharks just ten minutes earlier.
I will also give Shark Lake this – I’m pretty sure it’s the first time in cinematic history that we get to see the shark’s point of view while ominous music is playing. That was a very bold, creative decision on director Jerry Dugan’s part.
What else can I say? It’s textbook “so bad, it’s good.” Peter and Meredith even have time to discuss whether or not sharks are evil for eating people, which leads to Peter saying the immortal lines “Earth is a bad neighborhood, Meredith.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
I give it a 3/10 for quality and execution, but a 10/10 for entertainment value. At a brisk 90 minutes (10 of which is credits that pad out the runtime), this is a great movie to see with friends and laugh about how terrible it is.