Netflix UK film review: Bait
Ivan Radford | On 15, Jan 2014
Director: Kimble Rendall
Cast: Chris Betts, Richard Brancatisano
Watch Bait online in the UK: Netflix UK / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the supermarket, Bait happens. That sounds like a damning criticism but honestly, it’s hard to hate on a film made by someone who goes to the shops and thinks: “You know what this supermarket needs? A shark.” And that’s exactly what you get with Bait: a shark in a supermarket.
It took an impressive six writers to work out how to get said shark in the supermarket – a tsunami hits Australia, bringing water (and the shark) into the building – but you wish that same level of ingenuity continued for the rest of the film. Instead, this is a trash-by-numbers exercise in mediocrity. Still, it’s a mediocrity that has one thing going for it: a shark in a supermarket.
It’s bad news for Josh (Xavier Samuel), who has prior with finned objects – the shark’s last attack saw him quit his job on the beach and swap guarding lives for stacking shelves. His career is put in jeopardy by his shop-lifting partner, who is discovered just as his ex-girlfriend shows up; a melting pot of issues and conflicts that can only be resolved in one way: a shark in a supermarket.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a shark attacks an area, it is automatically met by a stratified sample of the local populace. And so Josh and his girlfriend are joined by every social stereotype you can imagine: the possessive father, the estranged daughter, the idiot jock, the idiot jock’s squeeze, the hardened criminal, and other anonymous fodder for the shark in a supermarket.
There’s no point listing names: with a blandly serviceable cast, they might as well all be wearing badges saying “Dead” and “Plucky Survivor”. The script also insists on treating them seriously, losing its Deep Blue Sea-like potential in a sea of straight faces and overbearing music. But what Bait lacks in awareness or emotional engagement, it makes up for with sheer stupidity.
The beast itself is a CGI creation, prone to leaping up out of the water in deliberately naff 3-D-inspired bursts, but the small screen is surprisingly forgiving on the cheap effects. The result is something that is far from good, but very close to fun.
There are flashes of brilliance from director Kimble Rendall: one sequence sees a guy covered in shopping baskets and strapped to canned goods, walking underwater like a 12 year-old playing deep sea diver. If there were more of that absurd inspiration and less of the melodramatic acting, Bait could have been a modern sub-Jaws classic. As it is, it remains what it was always bound to be: a film about a shark in a supermarket. For a LOVEFiLM Instant subscriber, it’s well worth a dumb night in away from the shops.
Bait is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.