A freak tsunami traps shoppers at a coastal Australian supermarket inside the building - along with a couple of 3.6 meter (12-foot) Great White sharks.
Review by Louise Keller:
The claustrophobic atmosphere created when a tsunami washes two killer sharks into a supermarket and its basement car park adds an extra terror twist in Kimble Rendall's horror creature feature, Bait 3D. Achieving a nice balance between tension, comic relief and the rising body count, scriptwriters Russell Mulcahy and John Kim have created a variety of dynamics between their characters, getting the stakes to escalate on various levels as issues of life and death come into play. The international flavour of the cast with its varied sprinkling of accents broadens the appeal as options are explored, time ticks to its limit and the water is bloodied.
It's a perfect Queensland summer's day at the beach and the cerulean water with its crystal white crests seems idyllic, until the shark alert sounds. Now, twelve months later, former lifeguard Josh (Xavier Samuel) still has not come to terms with the loss of his best friend to a great white shark on that day, and the resulting break up with his fiancé Tina (Sharni Vinson), as he goes about his routine in the supermarket where he works. But there's drama all around: an armed robbery, an incident involving a shoplifter and her policeman father, a couple making out in their car before the reappearance of Tina with a new beau.
It is at the peak of this human storm that the tsunami hits, causing devastation and chaos as the huge wave submerges everything in its path. As bodies float among provisions and survivors take stock of what has happened, conflict erupts through the terror as everyone realises they are now bait to the shark that is hunting in the flooded supermarket aisles.
The subplots mesh together effectively, albeit some work better than others. There's good chemistry between Samuel and Vinson, playing the key emotional notes, while Phoebe Tonkin has attitude as the attention-seeking shoplifter. I enjoyed the comic relief of the nonsensical banter in the car-park scenes between Cariba Heine as Heather, the dumb blonde with the fluffy pooch and boyfriend Kyle (Lincoln Lewis) who gets a drubbing when he admits the Gucci stilettos he gave her are fakes. Julian McMahon, well cast as one of the robbers, decides to try and hook the shark, reversing the notion of who is the bait.
There's a predictable score filled with alerts to the impending scares and the body count mounts inevitably. It's a good popcorn movie with Rendall managing the tone well. I like his nicely delivered version of Mack the Knife played in the closing credits.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
My curiosity was aroused when it was announced that Bait 3D was to screen (out of competition) at the prestigious Venice Film Festival just prior to its Australian release. The inclusion of such a commercially focused genre film seemed to echo the new acceptance of genre filmmaking among the Australian film bureaucracy, and it also draws attention to this film's cinematic qualities.
A clever idea effectively executed, Bait 3D sets the shark horror story within the confined space of a supermarket. The writing hand of veteran genre film maker Russell Mulcahy is evident (he made his creature feature bones with Razorback in 1984), although there are other writers credited with making a contribution. The screenplay has all the classic elements of a genre film in which humans are the prey - the bait - and more.
There are unresolved relationships between father/daughter, between lovers separated by fate, and between criminals trying to steal the supermarket takings. The predator becomes a source of catharsis and change; the deadly danger fuses people together - or tears them apart. It's a boiling pot, and the screenplay also manages to inject a little humour into the scenario, some of it macabre, some of it just human. The characters are defined and engage our interest.
The cleverness extends to the casting, where Xavier Samuel shares the lead with Sharni Vinson as his girlfriend and Julian McMahon as Doyle the reluctant robber. All three deliver the required level of intensity, though not as much as Dan Wyllie as the slightly psychotic and edgily entertaining Kirby. All the supports are great, and the film's technical achievements are outstanding. Ross Emery's camerawork and inventive solutions to lighting challenges are a great bonus, as is the work of production designer Nicholas McCallum and editor Rodrigo Balart.
There is a clear sense of place and setting: the tsunami floods a supermarket (looks like the Gold Coast) and its underground car park, and brings with it all manner of sea creatures, including a huge Great White shark that searches for prey in the aisles. And another one ends up in the car park amongst the trapped cars. Don't you hate it when that happens.
Kimble Rendall's direction is disciplined and maintains tension while giving us occasional respite for either humour or an emotional exchange. The tone throughout is well judged and the genre is well served. A final bouquet for the tsunami effects (and aftermath) - all seamless and powerful.
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KIMBLE RENDALL INTERVIEW
BAIT 3D (MA15+)
CAST: Xavier Samuel, Julian McMahon, Sharni Vinson, Phoebe Tonkin, Martin Sacks, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie, Alex Russell, Lincoln Lewis, Cariba Heine, Qi Yuwu, Adrian Pang
PRODUCER: Peter Barber, Todd Fellman, Gary Hamilton
DIRECTOR: Kimble Rendall
SCRIPT: Russell Mulcahy, John Kim
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ross Emery
EDITOR: Rodrigo Balart
MUSIC: Joe Ng, Alex Oh
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nicholas McCallum
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 20, 2012
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