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Taking Sharks Literally


Sympathy, Said the Shark Review

I admittedly don't understand the connection between the title and the film. An interview with the director tells us that it is a subtle analogy of a top predator asking for mercy. The director says this title ties indirectly with our three leads, as they must seek forgiveness from one another. Of course, it is hard in the context of the film to consider any of them top predators, so I personally find the analogy a bit flawed. Perhaps an artistic, enigmatic title for the sake of those aforementioned qualities?

Besides a pretentious label, Sympathy, Said the Shark is a rather enjoyable thriller with a tension fueled by its verbose leads. The tireless dialogue drives the plot of a couple and their estranged addict friend as they attempt to unravel the mysteries of the night's events, and their intertwining pasts. It can be quickly diagnosed that no one is morally innocent in this plot. Everyone is keeping secrets and it's only a matter of time before they come out in the open. And while the dialogue is the catalyst for the plot, the intriguing characteristic of the film lies in its cinematography.

The film takes place from (mostly) four perspectives; Justin the boyfriend, Lara the girlfriend, Church the estranged friend of the two, and the third-person perspective. The interesting thing about the treatment of these perspectives is the first-hand approach to the camera work. When we aren't in third person, we are seeing the story from the perspective of our protagonists. A majority of the mystery is solved in this format, as the time around these constantly shuffling perspectives overlaps. We eventually discover what every character is doing when not in the presence of the others through a little bit of time travel and some fancy first-person camera work.

The cinematography's telling of the film is more impressive than the plot, but its success in advancing the plot in an attention-grabbing way more than carries the story's inadequacies. Though it seems that reliving multiple scenes from various perspectives would get old, it actually becomes more intriguing as the film goes along. You realize there are tidbits of information to grab with every change in point of view. So despite what you might think, the perspective-switching isn't the most annoying part of the film.

The far more annoying element is Church's use of the f-bomb. I'm by no means offended by it, but by far the most frustating character in any horror movie is the guy who decides to use the f-bomb as an adjective, noun, and verb in every sentence. It happens more often in found footage films, because a portion of the dialogue is ad-libbed and that ad-libbing is regularly replaced with "fuck" when possible. In this case, Church drops it at an irritatingly high rate that you struggle to retain the information he is saying as your sub-conscious is trying to drown him out.

Nevertheless, the film as a whole was an enjoyable little mystery thriller. It's currently on Hulu, so you can swing by and check it out if you have an account there. It is by no means a horror film, but a strong thriller for those in the mood for something a little more toned back.

Horror Qualifier: 5/10

Horror Quality: 2/10

Film Quality: 7/10

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