I really disliked this film, more for its slow pacing and dull story than anything else. I don’t know what I was expecting with a film called Shark Lake. The film at least did deliver on the few things I wanted to see in it, a Shark, a Lake and Dolph Lundgren, who was vastly underutilized. Shark Lake mostly boils down to being a Jaws rip off and not a subtle one at that with a tad of family drama thrown into the mix. The worst part is I see what Director Jerry Dugan and Writers David Anderson and Gabe Burnstein were going for with the sub-plot. It just doesn’t hit the mark and ends up sucking up valuable shark time.
Shark Lake opens with Officer Meredith Hernandez (Sara Malakul Lane) and her partner raiding the home of an illegal rare animal smuggler Clint Grey (Dolph Lundgren). In the home they also find his young daughter Carly, before he leads them on a high-speed chase that ends with him being arrested and Clint being sentenced to five years in jail. With no one to take in Carly she’s taken in by Officer Hernandez. Five years later, Clint is released from prison and returns to his old home, where he hopes to pick up the pieces of his life and reconnect with his daughter Carly (Lily Brooke O’Briant). Although shady criminal elements from the past have very different plans in mind for him. While Clint deals with his problems Hernandez has her own after a retired couple gold panning in the lake are attacked. Leaving one of them dead and with the other not witnessing the attack, it’s attributed to a bear. Something Hernandez is instantly skeptical about, a feeling that is re-enforced after meeting Marine Biologist Peter Mayes (Michael Aaron Milligan), Who points out the extreme rarity of bear attacks. After this meeting while diving in the lake Peter comes across a grisly specimen, the remains of another attack that proves that it wasn’t a bear. Although he brings this evidence to Hernandez promptly, they are unable to warn the populous of the danger before it’s too late. To deal with the shark the police chief calls in Garreth Ross (Miles Doleac) to deal with them. But unfortunate for Ross, the shark or as it’s revealed Sharks as there’s grand total of three of them, deal with him. With a lake full of sharks, mobsters and Clint, who wants to see his daughter. Can Hernandez juggle them all in time to save lives?
Honestly the only thing worth seeing here is Dolph Lundgren and that’s only if you’re already a fan. He has plenty of charisma and plays the role of Clint incredibly well. In fact, he might be the only actor that… well acts. So it’s a shame that he’s criminally under utilized. Often forced into the sub-plot involving low-level gangsters, a sub-plot that is both trivial and forgettable. Which can be extended to everyone else in this film actually. Although there’s a couple of fun moments, there isn’t nearly enough to stave off the boredom this film creates.
One of the main issues I have is that Shark Lake wants to be both a family drama and a Shark attack film. Which wouldn’t be an issue if they didn’t feel like two completely separate films that were slammed together. Lungren’s performance could have carried either, both probably if given the chance. But being reduced to such a small aspect of the film in favor of blatant references to Jaws, all the way to stealing lines directly from it.
Final thoughts, I almost want to say it’s worse than Bitten. Which it isn’t, it’s just as bad. Being boring, poorly paced and even worse written, I can see why Shark Lake hasn’t received favorable reviews. That said, it’s deserved the reviews it’s received. 3/10
Also, why is never pointed out how rare Shark attacks are? Being just as rare as bear attacks.