Swamp Shark

| June 25, 2011

I’ll admit, it’s Swamp Shark. You got me there. Not holding that against it, Swamp Shark is a perfect six pack and pizza lazy-night-on-the-couch summer monster mash. All the elements are there for a good time. It sports a decent cast for being Swamp Shark, impressive if sparse effects for a TV movie, some surprisingly bluesy rockin’ good tunes, and exactly one swamp shark.
SyFy’s monster madness has been hit and miss entertainment-wise (see Dinoshark. Literally a shark with a T-Rex head). Swamp Shark does sport more tension, pretty bodies, and attitude than the others. It’s a knock-down, drag-out sweaty sexy time in the Louisiana sun. Plus, you know, a swamp shark. Because there are swamps like everywhere (not really) and if you believe in swamp sharks that’s some scary shit. Even if you only believe it for two hours while kinda drunk and stuffed with pizza.
In the movie, a killer shark is illegally released into the river of a remote Louisiana town. The crooked sheriff responsible blames a local family for the eventual disappearances of local townspeople. They must then battle the swamp shark (from boats with rifles, naturally) to prove to the people being picked off by the swamp shark that it does in fact exist.
It’s a monster movie. A creature feature. They’re supposed to be like that. Dumb plot, bad dialogue, shitty jokes, and thin characters. That way it’s fun when they (spoiler alert) are EATEN BY A SWAMP SHARK. And who doesn’t love a good dirty Sheriff side plot? (He’s selling the shark? WHAT? To who? And how?)
A monster movie is no good without an evil villain, and we get a fun one. Sheriff is genuinely sinister and a lot of fun to watch as he shrugs off the petty problem his town seems to be having of being eaten by a swamp shark. So, by traditional creature feature standards, he better watch out for the SWAMP SHARK!
I reiterate, the music in this thing was surprisingly good. Nicely recreated old Bayou music, fiddlin’ scores, and dirty blues abound. Someone put some serious thought into that soundtrack and it saves the sillier moments when the supposed danger of this ridiculous creature falls off the edge of believability into pure camp.
The film is more visually stylish than I expected and the scenery is gorgeous. Props to whoever thought to fill the movie with pretty landscape shots of setting suns and sparkling rivers. It’s a beautiful part of the country and it gets some well-deserved spotlight here. Unfortunately, as anyone who’s seen True Blood could probably figure out, there don’t seem to be any real Louisianans judging by the wildly inconsistent accents. Couldn’t they even find one? Or were they all eaten by the SWAMP SHARK?!!
The best moments are when the movie acknowledges its own silliness. As when the characters site the obvious like “Sharks live in salt water.” There’ some more sciencey talk and they kind of shrug it off. As it should be. Who cares? Suspension of disbelief is clearly not a concern for the makers of Swamp Shark, for Christ’s sake.
Admittedly, in this sort of thing, there are few big payoffs, but it moves fast and you barely notice. There’s so much happening on land, too. The actors in these movies sure seem to be having fun on screen (for other shark monster related examples, see Sharktopus and Dinoshark, also from SyFy). And when they’re having fun, it shows. And then we’re having fun, too. “That thing has tasted people. And apparently, we taste good.” And we laugh. No one mourns the dead. No one inquires how you have a funeral for someone who has been eaten by a swamp shark. And all this happens during a ‘gator festival’ no one even tries to shut down in spite of there being a swamp shark about. Too many horny, sexy young people frolicking to care.
I won’t spoil it here but the ending is definitely a worthy one for what Swamp Shark is. And if you don’t really pay attention, the second half is just a lot of dramatic movie screaming and blood and a few shots of the swamp shark. That said, it’s just a damn shark.

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