Bait opens with one of the cheesiest shark attacks ever committed to celluloid. It begins when lifeguard Josh (Twilight and The Loved Ones star, Xavier Samuel) fails to save his best friend and the brother of his girlfriend Tina (Sharni Vinson soon to be seen in You’re Next) from being nastily devoured by a fiendish fish, resulting in him screaming “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” while sitting on a jet ski.
It’s safe to say from the start with things don’t seem hopeful for Australian horror Bait being anything other than a throwaway Jaws rip off.
Flashing forward, Josh has abandoned his position as a lifeguard and now works in a cruddy supermarket in a small, Gold Coast Town, stacking shelves with the other reprobates that he works with.
When Tina shows up with a new boyfriend and the shop is robbed at gunpoint it seems like things couldn’t get any more dramatic. But they do, in a very unexpected twist that throws the boring shop into a brilliantly bonkers death trap.
When a terrifying and devastating tsunami hits the town it not only destroys buildings and kills thousands but leaves twelve survivors in the supermarket including Josh, Tina and one of the robbers (Doctor Doom himself Julian McMahon) trapped. But wait, that’s not all. In there with them are two 12 foot Great White’s equaling 24 feet of hungry, razor toothed danger swimming between them and escape.
Made as a co-production between Australia and Singapore, Bait is the first ever 3D movie to be undertaken by the countries and their excitement in using the cinematic spectacle is overtly evident, even in the 2D version.
Fish jump out at you, birds fly into you and sharks are shot emerging and attacking the camera as often as possible. Perhaps in 3D this effect is amazing (I doubt it greatly), however in 2D it grates slightly after a while and as these moments are telegraphed a mile in advance they don’t serve to spice up the scares and shocks much either.
‘And what of the special effects’ I hear you ask? Well, the mistake Bait makes is showing too much early on in the first clichéd and predictable shark attack scene and the badly realised tsunami, neither of which inspires much confidence in what is to come.
Luckily, once the movie gets into the ‘swim’ of things in the submerged super market the story, scares and effects all somehow come together.
After showing so much at the start director Kimble Rendall seems to learn that ‘less is more’ and keeps the killer shark sightings to a minimum, with spooky short glimpses of the big bad fish stalking its unprepared prey maximizing the effect when it does attack. This makes the effects look a lot better.
The excellent set that makes up the characters aquatic prison is very well done, and the constant threat of death added to the rising tension amongst the testy and terrified characters enhances the experience.
The cast, made up of Australian actors and actresses that you may or may not recognise, as well as Singaporean stars Adrian Pang and Qi Yuwu do a good job in a unbelievable situation. Xavier Samuel fully embraces the insanity, turning into a shotgun wielding action hero in the last few scenes.
There is no escaping the fact that Bait is built on a ridiculous concept. However, once you give in to the silliness and switch off your brain, the film is a thoroughly enjoyable horror in the same brine filled vein as Deep Blue Sea.
Perfect for those in the mood for a fun film filled with man eating fish and flying gory body parts, this horror will hook you in for sure. If you’re willing to take the ‘Bait’ that is.