Sharks are all the rage these days. It seems like the Syfy Channel cranks a new shark movie out every week. Sharknado, Sharktopus, Mega Shark, Ghost Shark, Shark Night, Dinoshark, Jersey Shore Shark Attack, 2-Headed Shark Attack, Spring Break Shark Attack, and that’s just scratching the surface. With all of that being constantly shoveled out it’s harder than ever to make something in this sub-genre that feels fresh and new. So that being said, how does Avalanche Sharks stack up? Is it a cheap cash-in on the recent success of Sharknado or does it shake up the formula enough to stand on its own?
Avalanche Sharks is pretty straightforward in the plot department. A group of disposable shark bait collects at a ski lodge during spring break and unbeknownst to them, an ancient and flesh-hungry shark demon is lurking in the mountains. This framework basically just serves as an excuse to send hapless victims through the meat grinder and it works to an extent. Some of it feels a bit forced, particularly the scantily clad women showing up on a snow covered mountain. It just feels like every time you see a bikini it should immediately be followed by news that the woman wearing it then froze to death. Given the spring break timing of the events, I have to wonder if this script was originally written for a warmer climate before they attached the whole “snow shark avalanche” theme.Avalanche Sharks starts off promising enough with a few really good death scenes early on. The sharks are that same crappy CGI quality that we’ve all basically become accustomed to in movies of this kind, but some of the gore is actually done with reasonably nice practical effects. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there. It’s a bit slow for the first half, with those two great death scenes sprinkled in to keep interest, but nothing in the back half is quite as memorable. I would have been totally fine with the slower pace if things really ramped up at the end when everything hit the fan, but it just never happens. The avalanche comes and then the scale of the climax is so small that it feels like a wasted opportunity. We have this huge mountain with chair lifts and tons of people and instead we end up focusing on maybe five of them stuck in a very small location. On top of that the practical gore goes completely out the window and instead we get CGI sharks simply popping up and swallowing people whole. Yawn.
Instead of the sharks, most of the runtime focuses on fighting and bickering. We have a few characters that are worried about missing people and then when they voice those concerns they fall on deaf ears. This is something we have seen before, but it’s stretched a bit too thin here. The way the lodge owner doesn’t take any of the missing person claims seriously is a bit too much, and only serves to slow things down. The plot in general doesn’t really seem to have any forward momentum. The characters are so inconsequential to anything happening and even the way that the sharks are ultimately dealt with is basically an accident.
The acting in Avalanche Sharks is pretty much on par with most of the other movies in the ever growing low budget shark sub-genre. It’s not great, and the characters tend to fall into overblown stereotypes that you’ve seen a million times. We have countless horny twenty-somethings, a nerd who can’t seem to impress women despite multiple creepy attempts, a ski lodge owner that only cares about his bottom line, and an ex-marine whose only personality trait is being an ex-marine. This all just comes off so stock that it might as well be clips from other movies stitched together. The majority of the dialogue even feels copied and pasted. One of the characters has a tragic backstory involving the snow sharks. One of them is a crazy prophetic “you’re all gonna die” type. The most egregious addition to the cast has to be the Asian girl that doesn’t speak English, though. I mean, all of the characters are stereotypes, but this one is just flat out offensive.
This is a low budget shark movie, though. I could have forgiven a hell of a lot of these faults if it had just been more fun. It’s slow to start with a few great deaths, but as it goes on it sort of feels like a balloon being deflated. If the avalanche actually kicked things into high gear and we had an amazing and chaotic climax full of creative and memorable death scenes then I would have no issue with the bland, forgettable characters, mediocre acting, sloppy script, and blatant cash-in status. It’s a reasonably well-shot film and some of the cinematography is actually rather spooky, but it ultimately falls flat. It will be available on VOD June 30th.
Wicked Rating: 4/10
Director(s): Scott Wheeler
Writer(s): Keith Shaw
Stars: Alexander Mendeluk, Kate Nauta, Benjamin Easterday
Release: June 30th, 2015
Studio/ Production Co: Odyssey Media, Pulser Productions, Rogue State, The Cartel
Length: 82 Minutes