It was perhaps foolish to think that Bait (2012) might recall the raw menace of Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) or Joe Dante’s B-movie classic Piranha (1978). But Kimble Rendall’s toothless horror is nothing of anything really: an underwater travesty which takes itself far too seriously and comes nowhere close to making the slightest contribution to the genre. Rendall has presumably lured the cast from 90210 to star in his film as a group of air-headed teens and shoppers, from Xavier Samuel (The Twilight Saga) to Julian McMahon, find themselves trapped inside a supermarket following a devastating tsunami.
While the clean-up on aisle five gets underway, the hapless Ozzies soon realise they aren’t alone – a great white shark isn’t satisfied with the reduced-to-clear items and is on the prowl for some flesh. If the team behind the Scary Movie franchise made a Jaws spoof, this is what it would look like. There are moments of flippancy but it’s dangerously downbeat, and unfortunately, Bait doesn’t have as many laughs as its latest rival Piranha 3DD (2012).
What’s more, there’s never really a sense of peril as Rendall doesn’t allow the tension to build. Just when it starts to get edgy, the shark rockets out of the water and we become desensitised to the threat. In this regard, Rendall’s naff horror is tactlessly over-engineered with CGI and little thought has gone into how we are made to feel claustrophobic and at risk. The 3D version of the film might help this, but it’s a perfect example of how Bait relies on cheap gimmicks and lousy thrills. It’s a struggle to find anything redeeming about Rendall’s horror ordeal; the acting is phony, the writing spectacularly clichéd and the melodramatic soundtrack utterly misplaced.
The reason these elements fail so noticeably is that Rendall tries to force many different issues. When Bait’s motley group are trapped, they start to reflect on their lives, their differences, and ultimately their imperfections (obviously it takes a tsunami to make people confront their flaws). This adds an extra dimension of triviality and detracts from the terror lurking in the water. What we’re left with is a final product which is neither interesting nor amusing.