Sharknado (2013)

Director: Anthony C. Ferrante

Fucking morbid curiosity. It’s led me down many a dodgy path in film, and HOLY FUCK it just led me down one of the dodgiest ever. When a friend on Facebook mentioned it was on GO! tonight, I knew I had to tune in though I equally knew I should resist… At least I suppose I now have some idea where the exploitation film is at in 2013; I was familiar with The Asylum (“mockbuster” masterminds behind this… thing) in theory—I suspect a DVD called Transmorphers I sighted at my local DVD emporium a number of years ago was the first I heard of them—but this is the first actual contact I’ve had with one of their products. Actually, the fascinating thing about Sharknado is its status as a social media phenomenon… made for the Syfy TV network in the US, it drew slightly below average ratings by Syfy standards but the Twitter word of mouth was voluminous enough that the viewer numbers increased substantially for a second screening and increased again for a third, ultimately leading to cinema screenings within a few weeks of its TV premiere. I know this sort of thing isn’t without precedent (hi there Duel), but I imagine it’s not exactly common for a TV film to blow up like that…

So, a global warming-generated megastorm wreaks havoc on Los Angeles, sucking thousands of sharks out of the ocean and dumping them, well, everywhere. A bunch of people try to survive the havoc. In short, it’s 86 minutes of pretty solid cheese that wastes little time on niceties like character, plausibility, continuity or decent special effects (I’ve seen better CGI in episodes of Doctor Who that cost vastly less than the million dollars this thing apparently cost). This review makes the point that the film really should be taken on its own terms and judges it a roaring success as such; I’m not so sure. Sharknado is pretty bad, but at the same time I’m not sure it’s bad enough. I could see the film trying to be so-bad-it’s-good without ever quite achieving that. I don’t know how else to explain what I mean other than saying Sharknado probably needed a director with more skill to make it really bad in a fun way. Someone who cared about making a bad film properly. If that makes sense. A better director could’ve played the material for more black humour (and more gore as well, the film could’ve done with that) and perhaps elevated it to real preposterousness; as it stands, it’s just, yeah, cheesy without being quite as inspired as it could’ve been. It feels like it was designed to generate the sort of Twitter buzz that it did without really being “good” enough to merit the fuss, not well enough made (really, the CGI is just so-bad-it’s-shit) to really be interesting. Fun but kind of frustrating too. On the plus side, at least I’m going to see out 2013 with one actual new release covered on the blog…

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