Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast (2011)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2013-01-14 05:51

Written and Directed by: Sam Qualiana

Starring: Sam Qualiana, Michael O'Hear and Jackey Hall

Reviewed by: Brett Gallman

Frozen in the ice for thousands of years... the beast has finally awoken.

Not that it ever stood a chance, but it looks like my beloved killer-shark genre has resigned itself to being a joke. Has any other sort of movie seen such a swift decline? Weíre a long way from Jaws. Hell, weíre a long way from Jaws: The Revenge at this point. The latest entry in the seemingly endless race to the bottom is Snow Shark, another title that immediately clues you in on the joke before running it into the ground. But at least this ground is covered in snow, right?

We open in 1999, a time when it was still cool to go out in the woods and search for mythical creatures thanks to The Blair Witch Project. In this case, a group of biologists are investigating a rash of mutilated animal carcasses, which results in the startling discovery of a shark that can somehow stalk its prey on land. After this unpleasant encounter leaves the team dead, we flash ahead to present day, where the beast reappears and begins to wreak havoc, much to the dismay of the local townsfolk, particularly the mayor and the sheriff, both of whom vow to finally end the snow sharkís reign of terror.

Snow Shark doesnít do much to convince you that itís anything but a silly joke stretched out to feature length. The opening scene is mired in amateurism, from the acting to the hastily sloshed upon digital effects, so itís pretty hard to take this one seriously (despite the title). Iím sure weíre not meant to, and this is another one of those post-Grindhouse self-aware offerings that revels in its badness and its schlock. Gratuitous violence and nudity accompany the obvious nods to the stuff that came before it (it doesn't take long until a Jaws reference is dutifully trotted out), but the film rarely displays any genuine wit.

Instead, itís another brain-dead slasher movie where the killer just happens to be an impossibly landlocked shark, a gag that wears thin when it becomes obvious that the production didnít have the budget to pull it off. Iím still not sure why any low-budget production would want to try their hand at a shark movie when even Spielberg had enough problems with it. It doesnít take long for Snow Shark to resort to the obvious use of CGI band-aids in this respect, an approach that becomes laughable when the animated blood starts dotting the screen. Even though the movie is pretty much a full-fledged cartoon, this still manages to be distracting because it just seems sort of lazy. I hesitate to level that criticism, especially since the practical effects are pretty good, but this stuff is just so brazenly bad that itís hard to be charmed by it.

Some of the other bad stuff is a little more charming in that respect, like the acting. Thereís a real community theater/backyard production vibe to it, but a lot of the cast has actually starred in other indie horror stuff (that I had to look this up is probably a good indicator of how good they are here). Perhaps due to the sheer amount of characters offered, some of them manage to be kind of fun, like the cryptozoologist whoís constantly hitting on the biologist heís teamed up with. If there are leads, I suppose itís the mayor, who is a smarmy type (he drinks from a giant mug emblazoned with ďWorldís Greatest MayorĒ), and the sheriff, who is out for revenge after the shark claims one of his sons. In between are the requisite gun-toting, beer-swilling rednecks who feel obligated to hunt the beast down, thus ensuring that thereís plenty of fodder for shark attacks. Even the poor store Santa isnít spared.

Playing out like a frosty, brain-damaged riff on Lake Placid, Snow Shark doesnít win the race to the bottom of the shark-infested barrel. Maybe thatís small comfort, but this genre has been saddled with some truly abysmal offerings lately, and this one at least has the good sense to be less than 80 minutes long. Of course, itís also a $7,000 movie that often looks every bit of it, so its outrageous concept and self-awareness can only carry it so far. To its credit, the approach carried it all the way to a nationwide DVD release courtesy of Independent Entertainment, who loaded the disc down with a ton of extras, including a commentary, some behind-the-scenes stuff, three short films from director Sam Qualiana, some outtakes, and a trailer vault for other IE offerings. The presentation isnít quite as impressive as the extras, though Iím guessing the flat, obviously digital look owes a lot to the production itself; likewise, the sound is quite uneven from scene to scene. In recent years, weíve seen Roger Cormanís low-budget take on killer sharks, but Snow Shark is more of a no-budget Troma affair. Even as someone who leaps at the opportunity to check out something with that sort of description, I was left a little cold by Snow Shark. Even intentionally bad movies need to be good at something, and this one only excels at being mostly forgettable. Rent it!

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