Friday, July 1, 2016

Shark Exorcist (2015)

My friends know I love shark movies, and one of them alerted me to the existence of Shark Exorcist several months ago. The title is, of course, ridiculous. Deliciously so. Shark movie fans are used to wacky titles by now, after seeing movies like Sharknado and Raiders Of The Lost Shark and Sharktopus (hey, I still haven’t seen Sharktopus). So a title like Shark Exorcist doesn’t scare me off; quite the opposite, actually. However, if you are someone who is going to judge from the title alone that this is a terrible movie, well… you’re right. It’s about a possessed shark in a lake, and a possessed girl. Or does the girl actually become the shark? It’s unclear.

When the movie opens, a nun walks through a graveyard, while we hear a news report about a search for Miss Blair (a nod to The Exorcist, obviously) who is accused of the torture and deaths of several boys and girls. The nun walks to the ocean and says to it, “The world has betrayed me, so the world will taste my vengeance.” The ocean doesn’t reply. When a woman suddenly approaches her and threatens to reveal what the nun has done, the nun pulls a large blade from her robe and stabs her with it. She then pushes her body into the water and asks Satan to send her an avenger in return. Time to cue the goofy yellow-eyed CG shark. And Shark Exorcist is underway. (By the way, no more will ever be said about the murdered boys and girls, so don’t go thinking that’s part of the plot.)

One year later, three dippy girls are heading to a lake. Lauren, the dumbest of the three, says “BFF” and expects the lake to have waterslides. And Ali is having boyfriend troubles. Emily is the brunette and so is the smartest and most likeable of the three. A sign at the lake says “Swim at your own risk,” and Lauren can’t get eaten soon enough for me. But it’s Ali that goes swimming and is attacked. So apparently, over the last year, the shark moved to the lake. (Unless that was the lake at the beginning; but then, why would there be a shark in it?) Also, it appears that someone wrote a poem or grocery list on Ali. Apparently, there was no money in the budget for special effects makeup, and so there is no bite on Ali. Just some fake blood on her leg. Just rinse it off and you’ll be fine, Ali.

But Ali is far from fine. According to her friends, she is acting strangely, taking long baths and so on. Emily is concerned, and reminds her, “Three weeks ago there was this chunk bitten out of your leg.” (Not true, as we saw, but whatever.) Ali tells her, “That’s the thing about almost dying, Emily: it is a real buzz kill.” Emily points out that there isn’t even a scar on her leg. But we’re already well aware of that. After all, there was never a wound. Ali then hitchhikes to the lake, and the guy that picks her up goes swimming with her. Hey, someone scribbled on his flesh too, in the same place where that grocery list is written on Ali. Could this be a key to unlocking the mystery of Shark Exorcist? Who has been writing on this movie’s cast?

Meanwhile a redhead named Nancy Chase is doing a low-budget exposé on the lake. She hosts a reality-type show titled Ghost Whackers, which is shot by a guy with a cheap video camera (just like the rest of the movie). Though at certain points she turns away from the guy with the camera and speaks directly to us through the movie’s camera, oddly breaking the fourth wall, and giving her cameraman a dubious shot of the back of her head. She also talks to the water, asking if it’s true that sharks have been attacking people. She says, “If there is a shark here, I believe it’s possessed, possessed by a demon.” Okay, then. And she acts like she herself is possessed. When some girl interrupts her taping to protest and insult her show, rather than just cutting until the woman leaves, Nancy acts like her show is being broadcast live. Weird. And the second time Nancy acts like she’s possessed, her film crew (meaning that one guy) runs away. No matter.

As for the film’s title, well, there is a priest named Father Michael who gets a letter about the mysterious death of his brother, and shows up to… well, investigate, I assume. Is his brother the guy with the writing on his side? We’re never told. The letter, by the way, is read in voice over by someone who seems to be struggling to speak. Father Michael seems to have some information on Ali’s troubles. And during the short exorcism scene, we get the obligatory, inevitable Jaws reference: "You’re going to need a bigger cross." (We also get the pea soup from The Exorcist.) And for some reason, the movie shows us three witches trying to summon a spirit, while some other girl crawls around in a graveyard. Nothing ever comes of this, so pay these characters no attention. There is also a retarded woman playing with toy sharks on a playground. Hey, does she always wear her swimsuit under her clothes?

Three more blondes are introduced halfway through the movie, and – oh no – they’re sorority sisters. Or, one is, and the other two want to be. If they are willing and able to swim in the lake without getting eaten by the shark, they get to join the sorority. That leads to the question, which is the worse fate? But don’t worry – these three girls are here for only one scene, and then are forgotten. And there is a long scene of some other blonde walking along slowly, then putting down a towel, sitting on it and playing with her phone. Who is she? A guy is watching her, taking photos of her. Who is he? No idea. But we get to see him scroll through every single photo he’s taken of the girl with his phone. This exciting development is shortly before the end of the film.

For a movie titled Shark Exorcist, it doesn’t really have much footage of the shark or the exorcist. And the shark footage that is there is really awful. The shark and the actors are never in the same frame. The movie also suffers from some terrible music, as well as some poor ADR. Watch the priest’s mouth during the scene where he meets Emily. His mouth doesn’t match the sound. And what’s up with the weird limping extra in the carnival scene? Why is there a carnival scene anyway? Still, I did have fun watching this one. Hey, at one point the shark arrives from space. It really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but I’m not sure it was ever intended to.

The movie is only an hour long, so after a portion of the closing credits, we’re given another scene. It’s of a girl looking at an aquarium, and then at some plush shark toys. It goes on for several minutes. And then just before the last of the closing credits, there is yet another scene. Just end, already!

By the way, two people are credited with special makeup effects. Hmm. One of them is Alaine Huntington, who is also an actor in the film. She’s also an associate producer. And the second unit director. And she’s in charge of transportation in Louisiana. Shark Exorcist was written and directed by Donald Farmer, who also made the Misty Mundae movie An Erotic Vampire In Paris (which surprisingly is a much better movie).

(Note: I posted a somewhat shorter review of this movie on Pop Culture Beast.)

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