Bait follows a group of people trapped in a half-flooded grocery store with great white sharks after a tsunami strikes the coastline. Battling the sharks and each other, the various personalities have to use the courage and wit to survive the hungry sharks that have gotten a taste for human flesh.
I don't know what it is about shark movies in particular, but it seems like the standard is to have great practical effects and embarrassingly awful computer graphics. One may consider Deep Blue Sea to be a guilty pleasure movie, but I do absolutely love that film. The practical effects are incredible and it's just overall a really fun popcorn flick that requires (or is better off without) much thought. The CG on the other hand is just abysmal. It contradicts and distracts from the rest of the film that is, for the majority, great. While Bait doesn't have the same level of quality in the rest of the film as DBS did, it does suffer a great deal from that infamous flaw.
I almost turned off Bait after the first 5 minutes. It became very clear why I hadn't tracked down this film until now and why I'd heard so little about it. The acting was weak and then the CG shark jumps out in all its shiny-rubber-toy glory like a student project from 2001 and I was seconds away from washing my hands of it. I don't mind watching garbage for the sake of a fun review, but I have my limits.
Thankfully, I hung in there after the terrible opening. The film, and even most of the effects after that dreadful opening were passable to exceptional. Again, the practical effects shots were great, but the CG sharks eventually reared their ugly heads and all thrills are killed as badly as the chomped victims. (Speaking of which, a huge nod to the effects work on the mauled bodies.) And if it weren't for the premise inviting an interesting environment, there is little to latch onto.
The acting is subpar, the script predictable and bland, and it ripped off the styles, concepts and/or formulas of several other films in the genre (Deep Blue Sea, Piranha, Shark Night). It made me appreciate even more the quality of The Shallows in its unique approach to the fairly limited subgenre.
But, again, I found myself engaged with the environment, the expansive and unique advantages and challenges it created, and the way the characters approached solutions to their predicaments. It's not enough to save the film, but I do latch onto storytelling like that very easily and become engaged. There was a bit too much conversational fluff, which reminded me of Howl's drawn out character development sequences, that just don't quite amount to anything substantial enough for you to care.
Nip/Tuck and Fantastic Four star Julian McMahon was not enough to salvage the weak script, but it also doesn't look like he's trying too hard to do so. Kind of like how any sense of acting in the Piranha films seems moot. Regardless of the film's realism or lack thereof, I can't help but appreciate the attempt. And, to be honest, I was still entertained despite the very obvious and direct flaws. If you'll watch any shark movie to the point that you've admittedly caught every Sharknado to date, I think you can find more than enough to salvage from this movie. If you have a hard time sitting through DBS without squirming in your seat from the absurdity, I would highly recommend staying away from this feature.
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 6/10
Film Quality: 4/10