Bait (2012)
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Bait (2012)

There is a line in the 1975 Steven Spielberg classic thriller, ‘Jaws’ the pretty well sums up the direction of this film genre for the succeeding four decades that succinctly stated; ‘it's all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.’ There is something visceral residing in the primitive limbic portion of our brains that overwhelms us with terror at the very thought of this largest of oceanic predators. Other creatures may have the ability to devour us but the great fish lurking in the water that brought life to this planet that will chomp at us while you are still painfully aware of what is going on. The only major restriction with using this as a plot device is you obviously have to locate your thriller at the beach or in the ocean. This further requires some contrivance to limit the potential human stackable treats from quick egress from the watery danger zone. In the past screen writers have utilized sinking boats, isolated marine research stations or even a rapidly sinking island to accomplish this genre requirement. In the latest big bad shark flick to hit the 3d screens, ‘Bait’, a rather unusual placement is achieved. In the spirit of the near impossible juxtaposition of deadly creature and unlikely location found in place sharks on a commercial airliner this movie offers up sharks in the supermarket. Of course this requires a method of gather the people, sharks and requisite amount of water to properly set the stage. A natural disaster is typically a plausible way to accomplish the staging disruption to result in an unbelievable set of circumstances. When water is involved there is nothing quite like a tsunami. No one would expect ‘Bait’ to achieve anything remotely like ‘Jaws’ of for that matter any of the myriad of imitators that have trailed along. This is an old fashion creature feature much like the ones that were the staple of neighborhood theaters and dilapidated grind houses lining Times Square back in the day. The up side here is ‘Bait’ does manage to sport some technically better special effects and was shot in the new 3D process.

The film opens by targeting the late teen market with Josh (Xavier Samuel), sleeping off a drunken night in his car. He is unceremoniously awakened by his best friend Rory (Richard Brancatisano) and in an economy of exposition we discover the rather woozy Josh is engaged to Alex’s sister, Tina (Sharni Vinson). The setting is on the beautiful pristine beaches of Queensland, Australia which circumstantially happens to be a native habitat of the legendary man-eater, the Great White Shark. The pair is employed as lifeguards on the beach or from the shark’s perspective with waiters bring the food or perhaps an appetizer if the actor’s name is not significantly placed in the credits. Once Josh pulls himself together popping his collar rakishly we get the initial look at his fiancée, a close up of her bikini clad backside in full 3D. This is typical and in fact necessary for any disaster movie or creature feature, it is vital to establish the idyllic surroundings before unleashing gnashing of teeth and tearing of limbs. The derričre shot was just a gratuitous nod to the ‘Y’ chromosomal primary demographic. Fear not boys, there is plenty more of these camera angles in the near future. Right off I noticed that the utilization of the 3 dimension effects were better integrated that I anticipated. They are used in a more organic fashion than usually found in an action oriented 3d Flick. The girl holding a sea horse or a swimmer pushing through the waves is conveyed nicely. The first 3D jump shot occur early on while the filmmaker is establishing the presence of large great whites in the waters. A lifeguard is on a jet ski during a shark sighting and Wham, a huge shark, toothy mouth agape, swops up from beneath right out of the plane of the screen. I’m not much for the exploitative use of 3D that is still common place in the format but I admit this caught me off guard. In an expected twist the life guard tasty treat was Rory, a vehicle to make what is coming up a personally difficult task for Josh. The tsunami is heralded by all of the animals sounding off aware in their primal fashion of the unstoppable mass of water heading towards them. We are next introduced to the less likable couple, Bad boy Kyle (Lincoln Lewis) and his blonde bombshell girlfriend Heather (Cariba Heine). She owns one of those yappy little dogs so certain ideas are already imbedded in the audience’s mind. The last couple is supermarket stock boy Ryan (Alex Russell) and his shoplifting girlfriend of eleven months, Jamie (Phoebe Tonkin). They are required to connect the kids on the beach with the main stage, the supermarket. Just to infuse a bit of relatable drama Jamie is about to be arrested and Ryan is fired. Fortunately she is the cop’s daughter. There are some sinister adult antics with a blackmailed Doyle played by a great actor for villains, Julian McMahon, who is trying to clear his brother. There are always some ancillary themes as plot fillers pacing the carnage.

The pacing of the film is needed in such a fashion that by the time the tsunami makes landfall the audience has already been introduced to release the cursory back stories the principal characters trapped in a supermarket. There is more than enough angst and animosity to allow a fairly even distribution thereby sustaining the mandatory soap opera field to the film. Audio perspective, there is a choice between Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1, but for possible in your system supports it go with the 7.1 mix. This is a relatively new audio format and properly placed the exit to speakers to make quite a difference in filling out the sound field and providing a completely immersive experience. Try switching between the two formats and try to hear the difference. Apparently there is a strong connection between the filmmaker’s use of 3-D and sharks. The second sequel of the cinematic masterpiece, ‘Jaws’, all of the marketing ploy set for many horror films appended with 3. Prior to the release of ‘Bait’ was even more lamentable 3-D opus, ‘Shark Night’. Supporting this premise is also a piece of trivia seen in the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy. Bodies in the future (2015), walking in the theater showing the joists equipment double digits, as a giant hologram of a shark leaping out at the people on street. There is something visceral about this perfect killing machine with his "black doll’s eyes" staring directly at you as a mouthful of sharp teeth open in preparation for attack. Overwhelming fear of such an alpha predator is hardwired into us and when depicted in 3-D flight or fight response kicks in despite the intellectual acceptance that you are in a safe place. One point that the film has in its favor is at the location. A parking garage and shopping center on one thing places all go on a regular basis. After watching sharp will be you might assure yourself that it couldn’t happen to you because you wouldn’t go in the water. The premise of this film is to have you considered what happens when the shark infested water comes to you. There are a few contrived 3-D effects which are to be expected of this type, but for the most part the illusion of depth is better used in many horror films incorporating 3-D to their storytelling. Although far from the greatest shock film ever made the presentation of the audio and 3-D video does make for interesting viewing nominates this for a guilty pleasure.

Posted  09/21/12

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