The very name elicits squeals of delight from the cult and B horror movie fan, because really, everyone knows exactly what kind of film needs to be attached to a title like Sharknado. It is going to be so-bad-its-good film with some silly shark-related gore in it, and we are going to be treated to some ridiculous flying sharks. The question then is: did we get the film we all expected, or did it not live up to the lofty expectations attached to it.
Distributed by The Asylum, and directed by Anthony C. Ferrante (Boo and Scream of the Banshee), Sharknado is a film about a freak Pacific hurricane driving thousands of sharks north toward Los Angeles. The hurricane brings flooding to L.A. with both water and super aggressive sharks (angered by the finning of their brethren for soup) pouring into the city. This leads our heroes Finley “Fin” Shepard (Ian Ziering), an ex-surfer turned bar owner, Nova (Cassie Scerbo), the plucky young bartender who hates sharks, and Fin’s Aussie best friend Baz (Jaason Simmons), to head inland to try and get away from the rising waters and save Fin’s estranged wife April (Tara Reid), son Matt (Chuck Hittinger), and daughter Claudia (Aubrey Peeples) from the encroaching shark infested waters.
Before we get to Fin’s ex-wife’s house (and the problems created therein), it bears mentioning that there are lots of shark attacks early in the film: sharks mauling surfers on the beach, sharks leaping and ripping evil fishermen apart, but there are no sharknados yet. This, my friends, you have to wait for, and make do with sharks flopping out of waves and swimming up roads to eat people and ravage the city.
As our heroes get to the house, we meet April’s new boyfriend Colin, who is pretty pointless, and thankfully short-lived, and we are introduced to what is essentially the major flaw that keeps Sharknado from being as flat-out fun as it could have been: Fin’s ex-wife and daughter.
While it would be easy to blame the acting, as with many b-movies, the performances in Sharknado are (mostly) hit and miss, but that is very much not the case here. The characters of April and Claudia are so beyond irritating—as written– that it is hard for us to believe that Fin is so motivated to save them and that is a problem with the script itself. His desire to protect his son Matt is understandable; Matt immediately comes off as a great dude, who also flies helicopters (win), and seems worth Fin’s time and effort in saving. Fin’s ex-wife and daughter, however, spend their time in the film doing their absolute best to slow the plot down, make Fin feel like he is a bad person for trying to save a BUS FULL OF CHILDREN, or narrating what is happening on screen for us by complaining that the heroes are not doing something properly, or fast enough, while doing nothing themselves. This makes all of Tara Reid and Aubrey Peeples’ screen time an exercise in making the audience wish that a shark would fall from the sky and eat their characters already.
Speaking of sharks falling from the sky, when we get to the titular sharknadoes, thankfully, they do not disappoint. As if the concept is not b-movie awesome enough, it is decided that the best way for our heroes to deal with a water spout sucking up and hurling sharks around Los Angeles is with bombs.
Yes. Bombs. It is exactly as ridiculous and entertaining as that sounds.
In the interest of not spoiling anything for those of you who are seeing Sharknado for the first time, we will leave the plot there. Rest assured however, there is an absolutely amazing ending that will have you giddily laughing, as it (almost) makes getting through the near-unbearable characters (April and Claudia) worth it.
There are some fun smaller roles in Sharknado, including John Heard (Kevin’s dad from Home Alone) as a drunk who fights sharks with his bar stool, and Robbie Rist as the school bus driver, but the film primarily focuses on the main group, and is the better for it. While there are a lot of dead extras (a staple of B-horror), so you do not have to worry about not having enough fun, shark-related killings (there is even a red-shirt for the Star Trek fans), the plots’ focus on one group helps to…well it seems wrong to say “keep Sharknado believable”, but it does keep the film grounded in a story that however ridiculous, remains personal, rather than becoming too wide-reaching and scattered for its’ own good.
If you are thinking about seeing Sharknado for the first time, particularly during Sharknado Week, here at the end of July 2014, then I would say that if what you have just read sounds interesting to you, you will enjoy yourself. As with most B-Movies, Sharknado can be an exercise in just accepting what is going on, and looking past the myriad of little mistakes, but for the B-Movie fan there is a lot here to enjoy. If you have just stumbled across Sharknado because of the hype, but are not into B-movies at all, well…you will get exactly what you expect from this film, and nothing more. Regardless, go into Sharknado with low expectations and with the idea of having a good time mocking the movie as it goes, and you will enjoy yourself.
Then get ready for Sharknado 2: The Second One premiering July 30, 2014 on SyFy; the Sharknado is coming for New York, and this time…it’s in New York.