A pathetic “Piranha” wannabe, “Shark Night 3D” makes bait of the usual batch of buff and buxom collegiates, but without a hint of the humor in Dimension’s year-old gnasher film. Ludicrous scripting would have auds believe that a trio of camcorder-wielding Louisianans — including a snaggle-toothed redneck played by Joshua Leonard — has let loose a slew of maneaters in a freshwater lake, allowing the good ol’ boys to shoot underwater snuff films for sale to “Shark Week” fans. That the animatronic beasts appear more fully dimensional than their flesh-and-blood victims is but one reason why the B.O. will lack bite.
Following a prologue that lazily feeds on the first scene of “Jaws,” the pic’s ethnically diverse characters are introduced in ways that practically telegraph the cliched order of their demise. Black football stud Malik (Sinqua Walls), with g.f. Maya (Alyssa Diaz) in tow, accompanies white classmates to the lake island cabin of lissome blonde Sara (Sara Paxton), whose dog Sherman seems far too cute to be chomped first.
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All but certain to survive is Nick (Dustin Milligan, “90210”), a high-strung pre-med student who has a thing for Sara despite her mysterious relationship to scarfaced Dennis (Chris Carmack, “The OC”), a local yokel attached at the hip to his beer-drinking buddy Red (Leonard). Greg (Donal Logue), the town sheriff and an air-drumming pal of the two slackers, seems not to notice when Sara’s speedboat crashes and explodes — this after an absurdly swift shark has chewed off Malik’s arm and given chase.
Sans cell-phone coverage and hours away from a decent hospital, Nick swims to lake’s bottom and miraculously retrieves the limb of Malik, who, as darkness falls, uses his remaining arm to swing a spear at the tall-finned predator he’s determined to kill. Even more inane is the pic’s subsequent revelation of Dennis, Greg and Red as sadistic shark wranglers bidding to enter the illicit video biz.
Unlike his “Snakes on a Plane,” director David R. Ellis’ sharks-in-a-lake thriller displays little sense of its scenario’s camp potential. Gore, too, is in short supply on account of the pic’s PG-13 rating, which renders the attack scenes nearly toothless. So-so 3D lensing fails to compensate for the countless deficiencies of a movie understandably unscreened for critics.
“Shark Bite,” a goofy musicvideo directed by Milligan, follows the film’s end credits and comes across as marginally funnier than the pic proper, in part for its silly rap refrain “Sharks on my jock.”