Tuesday, April 30, 2013

#988. Bait (2012) - Spotlight on Australia

Directed By: Kimble Rendall

Starring: Richard Brancatisano, Xavier Samuel, Chris Betts

Tag line: "The food chain just got flipped"

Trivia: Despite only earning approximately $775,000 in its home country of Australia, the movie was an overseas success, making upwards of $20 million China alone

Bait, a 2012 Australian import, has a few things in common with another recent film, 2011’s Shark Night. Along with the fact both were originally presented in 3D, they tell a similar story, in which a group of people are hunted by killer sharks. But this is where the similarities end, because while Shark Night toned down the violence to attract a younger audience, Bait lets the blood flow freely, and even allows an occasional severed head to float into frame.

A small beachside community is rocked by a freak tsunami. As a result, several people are trapped inside a flooded supermarket. But while they were lucky enough to survive the disaster, these unfortunate few now have a much bigger problem to contend with: a pair of enormous great white sharks are loose in the store, and are hungry for fresh meat. 

After gorging themselves on the corpses of those killed by the tsunami, the sharks turn their attention to the survivors, who, trapped standing atop the store's shelves, are working diligently to find a way out of their dangerous predicament.

It’s a great set-up, and Bait does a fairly good job telling its story, combining the gory attacks with a few genuinely suspenseful moments. Along with those inside the supermarket, three people are also trapped in an adjacent parking garage, sitting patiently in their submerged vehicles waiting for help to arrive. Two of them, Kyle (Lincoln Lewis) and his girlfriend Heather (Cariba Heine), inadvertently draw the attention of a shark, causing the creature to crash itself into their car’s windows. 

Yet while the tension in Bait undoubtedly rises whenever the sharks are on the prowl for food, it’s nothing compared to what happens when they finally catch some. In one scene, a guy falls into the water and quickly attempts to climb back out. Jaimie (Phoebe Tonkin), a teenage girl trapped inside the store with her policeman father (Martin Sacks), grabs the guy's arm to try and help him. It’s at this point a shark attacks. Soon, Jaimie is holding nothing but a severed limb, and watching as the rest of the body slowly drifts away.

Unfortunately, Bait does suffer from what seems to be a common ailment in recent genre films: poor CG effects. The scene where the tsunami crashes onto the beach isn’t the least bit convincing, and some of the shark attacks result in a cloud of computer-generated blood that’s equally unimpressive. Fortunately, Bait manages to overcome these issues, weaving an intense tale of survival around an interesting concept, and doing some pretty cool things with it in the process.

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