….The twenty-first century received a Jaws echo, in the form of Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week and SyFy’s original monster movies, most of which take Jaws as their template. The monster is usually aquatic, so the film can feature lots of beach footage and bathing suits. As in Jaws, the protagonists usually must face both the monster and corrupt officials. To that SyFy adds terrible CGI and has-been actors. While Sharktopus may be the most well-known (with an opening that directly references the start of Jaws), the best of a bad lot is probably 2011’s Swamp Shark. It stars the original Buffy, who has switched from vampires to another toothy foe.

Title: Swamp Shark

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Griff Furst
Written by Charles Bolan, Eric Miller, Jennifer Iwen.

Kristy Swanson as Rachel Bouchard
D.B. Sweeney as Tommy Breysler
Robert Davi as Sheriff Watson
Jeff Chase as Jason ‘Swamp Thing’ Bouchard
Jason Rogel as Martin
Richard Tanne as Tyler
Sophie Sinise as Krystal Bouchard
Wade Boggs as Deputy Stanley
Natacha Itzel as Sarah
Dylan Ramsey as Scott
Christopher Shane Berry as Deputy Mandling
Marcus Lyle Brown as Deputy Cooper
Harold Evans as Jackson
Thomas Tah Hyde III as Marcus
Lauren Graham as Laura
Charles Harrelson as Noah

Full Cast and Crew information is available at the imdb.

Available at Amazon.

Premise:

The sheriff of a southern town has a side-business, the illegal capture and sale of exotic animals. When he and his associate lose an armored shark of a previously unknown species right before the annual Gator Fest, it’s up to the staff of a seafood restaurant to save the tourists and horny teenagers.

I suspect that made more sense in someone’s head.

High Point:

A lot of older Not Grade A movies are better than the current crop (adjusting for personal bias; the older films are the ones I grew up watching) because they either take themselves seriously or, when they don’t, the wink at the audience is subtler. If a mediocre film takes itself seriously, the audience can get behind the aspects that do work. Of course, when a bad film takes itself too seriously, it’s frickin’ hilarious, unintended camp.

SyFy’s monster films rarely have any such balance. Clearly, both filmmakers and audience know the films are crap. They practically jump about, flailing their arms and screaming, “See! This is camp!” The problem is, they’re not campy enough to be deliberately funny, but neither do they work as serious films– even as bad serious films. And because the filmmakers know they’re turning out garbage, the audience’s disbelieving laughter rings hollow, and then not at all.

Swamp Shark fares a little better, because, although it hardly constitutes a good film, and yes, it contains its winks at the audience about that fact, it generally takes itself somewhat seriously. It’s not very good, but it’s one of the few SyFy originals I can recommend watching at all.

So, yeah, the recommendation is, “slightly better than Sharktopus.”

Low Points:

The bayou is awash in stupid.

Horny college students think the middle of the lake in a boat is a private place to have sex. In broad daylight. When there are dangerous animals about. When someone warns them they’re heading into danger, they not only ignore her, they throw her cell phone in the water so they’ll really be screwed if she turns out to be right. Meanwhile, a deputy gets killed mid-conversation and the sheriff’s department doesn’t treat the sudden radio silence as suspicious.

I could go on, but why?

The Scores:

Originality: 1/6. They ripped off Jaws, poorly, years after the fact, and in the fashion of previous rip-offs of Jaws.

Effects: 3/6 The CGI is slightly better than most SyFy Monster Movie CGI.

Acting: 4/6 The acting ranges from pretty good to awfully wooden. I thought the leads were better than average for a SyFy original.

Story: 3/6 Jaws made stupid, with a Corrupt Southern Sheriff instead of a corrupt Mayor, and restauranteurs in place of qualified sharkhunters.

Production: 4/6 The film features some good shots of the swampland and the bayou.

Emotional Response: 3/6 The script has a number of potentially scary situations; the execution, for the most part, fails.

Overall: 3/6.

In total, Swamp Shark receives 21/42.