A lot of film reviewing is all about relativity. If I saw this movie before I watched Jurassic Shark, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, I’d think this was a terrible Syfy Channel CGI Shark movie. But since I watched this AFTER Jurassic Shark, this movie looks positively inspired. Nah, I take that back, it’s still pretty crappy.
Sand Sharks (2013)
I’m not a big fan of the Sharknado movies. The one semi-clever idea the filmmakers had was the asinine title, then they went from there creating a super-cheap production, even by crappy CGI shark movie standards. The filmmakers spent more money in subsequent sequels but I don’t think the jokes or film-making got any better. Sand Sharks actually came out the same year as Sharknado, so it’s wallowing in the same pool of winking camp, not a direct rip-off. Although, let’s be honest, aren’t all shark movies just a rip off of Jaws?
So the SyFy Channel crappy CGI monster movie formula is, you take one out-of-work ’80s or ’90s TV actor, in this case star of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Corin Nemec. Add in a Z-grade celebrity, Brooke Hogan, and a gonzo premise guaranteed to scare nobody, sharks in the sand. This movie ups that ante by having several sharks but, really, after you’ve paid for one shark computer graphic, you can re-use and repeat it to your heart’s content.
We open with one of the least interesting sports ever invented, dirt biking. We see guys ride bikes up a sand dune. And then down the sand dune. Then back up the sand dune. This goes on for what feels like hours. Then a dirt biker wipes out. I’m hoping he gets eaten by a sand shark soon, so the dirt biking scene will end. Yep, sure enough he’s made to disappear by a CGI shark, since “eaten” is a strong word for the one second of shark that we see.
Then a chubby biker is chased by a tail fin coming out of the sand, and that’s a better effect. It still looks fake as hell but at least it’s an amusing visual. I will say this for Director Mark Atkins: compared to Jurassic Shark, this looks like a real movie with actors and audible dialogue. This movie also has a consistently campy tone which fits the ludicrous nature of the premise.
Parker Lewis plays a fast-talking huckster begging money from his dad. He is playing a typical caricature of a greasy, leather-jacketed and gold-chain wearing con-man, and Parker Lewis is pretty terrible. I think he’s supposed to be funny but, in low-budget movie land, the character comes off as obnoxious and annoying, instead of roguishly charming.
So Parker Lewis is the villain of this movie. You know, the guy who wants to keep the beaches open despite being riddled with schools of sand sharks. The plot is entirely lifted from Jaws, down to the lone good cop trying to close the beach and a famous wrestler’s daughter who has a lantern jaw and spends the entire movie in short shorts and a tank top helping the cop. Oh, wait, that wasn’t in Jaws. Sorry, my bad.
The best line of the movie is delivered by a cop who finds the decapitated head in a motorcycle helme:, “It wasn’t a shark. For all we know, it could’ve been a coyote.” Sure, officer dumbass.
So now Brooke Hogan shows up doing what she’s good at, wearing tank tops and delivering her lines in a flat monotone. Apparently she’s playing a marine biologist. I’m not going to insult Brooke Hogan’s looks. She’s got pretty blonde surfer girl appeal, but you can’t help feeling like you’re looking at Hulk Hogan in a bikini. I will say that from some angles she looks mannish and that she has a mustache. I blame the cinematographer, and, oh hey, it’s director Mark Atkins. Well, I deduct points from you, sir. I also notice that the characters have really stupid punny names, like Brooke Hogan is Sandy Powers, the cop is John Stone, and the brunette bitch character is Amanda Gore. Gee, I wonder what happens to her later in the movie?
The other notable talent is Vanessa Evigan, who plays a different cop and is the girlfriend of Parker Lewis. She has to act like she is in love with Parker Lewis, and she plays competent and determined really well. She also pulls double duty as the Special Effects Supervisor. When you finally see them, the sharks look more like Tim Burton sand sharks from Beetlejuice than any attempt at shark realism, so they’re fine. They’re never the least bit scary but they’re kind of jagged, spiky, and rocky looking, which is at least creative. Good job, Vanessa.
The movie continues to its inevitable shark showdown conclusion. There’s a steady stream of sand shark attacks, most of the actors with lines get eaten, and there’s a rave with what looks like dozens of extras. The big rave chowdown is pretty weakly done however, with the dozens of extras clearly running in circles around the actors. Then Vanessa Evigan gets ripped in half and Parker Lewis almost makes it funny by fighting his revulsion to kiss her goodbye.
The worst part of the movie is where Parker Lewis decides to get heroic and distracts the sharks by singing the public domain song, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and running in circles. That’s just stupid and unfunny, and then he gets devoured by several sharks.
Sand Sharks is far from the worst SyFy Channel CGI giant animal movie I’ve seen lately. It has moments of humor and it never takes itself seriously. It’s competently made, if fairly by the numbers.