Sharknado (2013)

I’m not sure how one goes about reviewing a film like Sharknado, except to say that it blew up social media upon both its trailer release and television premiere, and I can’t really think of the reason why. There are dozens of similar films that have been released by companies like Syfy and The Asylum, and simply having a ridiculous premise like this one really shouldn’t be enough to garner this sort of attention, especially when the result is as bad as Sharknado wound up being.

The basic premise here is that a huge storm is approaching Los Angeles, and with it come tornadoes which have picked up sharks. They rain down from the sky, sometimes, at least. Mostly they just swim in the streets, because the storm is so bad that pretty much every street is flood, if only intermittently. See, either logic wasn’t used or the budget wasn’t high enough to render the water for the film’s entirety, so there are times when water is up to the actors’ waists, and others when it’s not even there — and yes, this can sometimes happen in simultaneous shots.

I suppose that’s some of the charm in watching a film such as this one. You look for inconsistencies, you search for poor filmmaking, you hope for bad special effects. It’s supposed to be funny, right? Poking fun at incompetence is a joy. I get it. These are the types of “so bad it’s good” movies that a lot of people ironically watch. I’m sometimes among them. But with Sharknado, I don’t really get the appeal. It’s a terrible disaster movie about a group of people wandering through Los Angeles and occasionally doing something to avoid or kill the sharks, which don’t factor in as much as one would hope.

The characters: A professional surfer and bar-owner, Fin (Ian Ziering); his ex-wife, April (Tara Reid — no, seriously); their son, Matt (Chck Hittinger); their daughter, Claudia (Aubrey Peeples); Fin’s friend, Baz (Jaason Simmons); and a waitress at Fin’s bar, Nova (Cassie Scerbo). There are actually too many people in this film, and this isn’t even including the ones who initially seem important and are then killed shortly their introductions.

Throughout Sharknado‘s first half, it didn’t seem like we were going to do too much character building. Fin is looking for his family, sure, but that’s understandable considering the intensity of the storm. But there are more relationships on the film’s mind than just Fin and his family’s (possible, but probable given the movie) reconciliation. It’s like the filmmakers once saw a whole movie and realized that character growth is generally beneficial to one’s film.

It doesn’t work to Sharknado‘s benefit, however. We don’t want to see forced character beats or “drama”; we want to see people fighting sharks which have been thrown down from the sky by tornadoes. We only truly get that in the last few minutes. Most of the film involves the water posing more of a threat than the sharks. Water levels of varying height, because why would we have consistency in a made-for-TV movie about sharks and tornadoes, and the combination of the two?

There are, admittedly, a few funny moments in Sharknado. As the film progresses, it gets funnier and funnier. It starts off dreadfully slow, actually, and it’s only after the entire cast has gotten together (about an hour into the hour-and-a-half movie) that Sharknado really finds itself. And by “finds itself,” I mean “finally gives us the C-grade entertainment we want.” One particular reference to Jaws made me chuckle, and seeing almost no character other than Nova do something of value for 90% of the picture might be humorous to some. And seeing once-popular Tara Reid in this type of drivel might be inherently funny, if not sad.

It all looks awful, with poor shot composition, special effects, lighting, and so on. I don’t know why these films have to look as bad as they do. I get that the good filmmakers won’t spend time making tripe like this, but surely the ones doing the filming would have watched some films in their life and know, at a base level, how some shots should look. You can’t help the bad special effects, but you can fix those other things.

I suppose the acting isn’t terrible, which might mean that Sharknado has one category in which it is above similar films. The leading cast is all likable and you can believe them when they’re fighting the sharks or acting scared, and that’s about all that’s required. The drama scenes fail, but they were going to fail anyway because of the poor writing. At least most of the lines weren’t delivered in a cringe-worthy fashion. I’ll take that.

Sharknado is a terrible, awful, no-good, very bad film. It’s occasionally fun and interesting, but mostly it’s just another atrocity made to get views simply because of a silly premise. “A tornado with sharks? Of course we have to watch and tweet about this.” No, you don’t. In fact, please stop talking about it. Don’t see Sharknado — there are better films of the same ilk that you’d be better off watching, if you really need a film to watch ironically. Snakes on a Plane still exists, doesn’t it?

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