When great white sharks attack, not even the aisles of our local supermarkets are safe.
Probably one microscopic notch above the output of cheapjack mockbuster cottage industry, The Asylum (Transmorphers, Snakes On A Train, etc), Kimble Rendall's Australia-set Bait is a digitally-powered concept horror which asks the question that hangs on the nation's collective lips: what would happen if a great white shark was set loose in a flooded supermarket?
But there's more. It's a great white with an insatiable appetite and a taste for live human flesh. It's irate, and its metabolism is extreme. As soon as it chomps through one hapless human fleshpod, it's ready for the next. And it also has the strange ability to judge which characters have been naughty or nice, like a big floaty Santa Claus. If you've transgressed in any way, it's violent death and make no mistake. But if you're clearly one of the good guys, you're let off with a swishing sound effect which stands in as aural shorthand for "almost".
Josh (Xavier Samuel) is the rent-a-spunk lifeguard who packs it all in when he sees his best mate dragged to a watery grave following a rogue shark attack. A year later, he's stackin' shelves at the (ironically named) Oceania supermarket where his boss busts his balls and his new girlfriend is something of a serial shop lifter.
But just as the shouting and accusations begin, a gang of masked hoods decide to rob the store. And then – would you believe it? – Josh's ex-beau and her new boyfriend decide to go out for the weekly big shop at that exact same moment. Then the whole place gets smashed to pieces by a wayward tsunami.
It's mostly a flavourless hash of bungled monster and disaster movie conventions, with characters so thin, they're almost invisible to the human eye from certain angles. Director Rendall makes it even harder for himself by casting actors for the ensemble of survivors who look identical to one another: so there's two bald goons, two brown-haired heroes, two expendable asian men and two brunette love interests. It makes it very difficult to know who's doing what and who they're sending off to certain death.
As absurd as it all is, there are a couple of moments where Rendall proves that he's not a stone cold genre hack for the ages. One set piece sees a character given an improvised diving suit made from shopping baskets and large tins to weight down his feet. He then has to wander across the submerged store to turn off the power, lest they all be fried by a rogue sparky cable that's fallen from the roof. It's a nicely filmed and thought-through sequence, but as soon as it's over, we're back to the hum-drum tedium.
How the hell does a shark get into a supermarket?
Oh. Right. Like that.
You've seen this movie without even seeing it.