Saturday, October 13, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 13 -- Give the Audience What It Wants, Dagnabit! : a Review of "Jersey Shore Shark Attack"

As someone who enjoys The MST3K Effect of "so bad they're good" movies, I'm always up to watch one of the SyFy Original Movies, a brand that screams crazy plots, sub-par acting, and wildly inconsistent visual effects. Granted, I tend to enjoy their giant-mega-super-mutant-[insert animal here]-asaurus films more than their freaky natural disaster or plague of killer animals pics, but when I saw the title Jersey Shore Shark Attack, I was struck with a morbid curiosity about just how Jersey Shore it would be.  Turns out the answer is:  too much.

Jersey Shore Shark Attack isn't just a generic shark attack film set on the Jersey Shore; no, it's a full blown Jersey Shore  parody, with characters sporting names like Nookie and The Complication, that just happens to have a mass of killer sharks thrown in for good measure.  And that was almost the death knell for my enjoyment of the film.  After all, for The MST3K Effect to fully work, there has to be a general lack of self-awarenes apparent in the film; once you realize the filmmakers are fully in on the joke, then you start to judge the film by how well they're exploiting this awareness.  It's a fine line to walk, making a bad film and winking at the audience to let them know that you know it's bad, because, on some level, it makes the audience wonder why if you're smart enough to know it's bad, you keep on doing it. 

Not that I think the creators of Jersey Shore Shark Attack demonstrate all that much self-awareness, mind you; but, the fact that it is a parody featuring caricatures of people who already come of like caricatures means we're suddenly out of the realm of regular B-grade horror films, and into some weird hybrid that can't decide what it wants to be.   And since one of the things that will almost always ruin a movie for me is an inconsistency of tone, I found this a hard one to make it through.

But make it through I did, holding on to one single hope the entire time:  that I would get to see one of the sharks devour one of the main characters.  After all, who among us hasn't yearned for the catharsis of watching the cast of the Jersey Shore mauled by wild animals?   Sadly, the answer is apparently "the filmmakers," as not a single one of the direct Jersey Shore parody characters gets so much as nipped by any of the sharks.  In the end, I think it was that refusal to pay off the implied catharsis of watching Nookie and The Complication torn to bits that sunk the film totally for me.

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