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Malibu Shark Attack

Next in my Hot Summer Shark Festival (name still pending), we leave Europe and arrive at the sunny beaches of Malibu. After a tsunami hits, a group of lifeguards are trapped in a partly submerged lifeguard stand and must fight off a horde of goblin sharks.

In a previous review, I had called this movie shlock, and I owe it an apology. No, it's not fine art by any means, but it's surprisingly competent.

Malibu Shark Attack is a Syfy channel original, which implies a certain level of quality. A very low level. My expectations were equally low, but that might be why I enjoyed this as much as I did. There is a large amount of care here.

I give them a lot of credit for their shark choice. In almost every shark movie, you're going to see a great white shark. Maybe a megalodon if we're leaning into the prehistoric angle. In a very rare occasion, you might see a bull shark. And I understand why. Great whites have been the choice ever since Jaws, a meg is just cool, and a bull shark is for those who want to be different or who want to easily explain why a shark is in fresh water.

This is the first time I've ever seen a goblin shark used, and I love it. They're a very cool, alien looking shark that we don't know a lot about because they're a deep-sea species. However, hundreds of them were found and caught off the shores of Taiwan following an earthquake in 2003. Suddenly, we have precedent for why goblin sharks make it to Malibu following a massive 100 foot tsunami.

No, the CGI isn't very good. Yes, they clearly reused the same handful of CGI scenes multiple times. It got distracting about midway through. I understand why they kept showing us the sharks, but it just underlined the fact that there wasn't really a lot happening. The sharks didn't need to attack the bottom of the lifeguard stand six times. Or if they did, I wanted them to try something new. There's a lot of promise in the concept of having a group of people trapped in one location. Many movies exploit it to great effect, including the movie I plan on reviewing next week. But instead, the tension and momentum slowly drains away until I'm bored and spend the last thirty minutes with most of my attention on my phone.

It's especially disappointing following the strong start that we had.

It takes thirty minutes for the tsunami to hit and for things to get appropriately shark infested. That's about a third of the movie that is spent just with the characters and fleshing out the dynamics between them. It's more than we usually get, especially in a Syfy movie. And sure, there are some grating personalities. Jenny, a whiny and entitled teen who flirts incessantly and doesn't understand why shoplifting is a big deal, in particular is very grating.

And yet at the same time, the romance arc that she had with serious, rule follower Doug was kind of sweet. I liked their dynamic when Jenny wasn't screeching at the top of her lungs. Barb and Bryan were also a couple that I really enjoyed in the beginning, but unlike Jenny, I liked them less as we went along. The time we spend with them is important, though. That early investment into our characters help the movie stay afloat as the plot treads water.

Too heavy-handed on the water metaphors?

The point still stands. The characters are fundamentally caricatures, but they're well acted and we spend enough time with them to get invested in their lives and relationships. It's a lot more than I expected here, but it was enough to make me hope for their survival as opposed to cheer for their deaths.

Random Thoughts

Okay, I'm sorry, but there is no way that the lifeguard stand survived a 100 foot tsunami. It didn't even go completely underwater!

I didn't expect the love triangle to be resolved by the woman suggesting polyamory, but I'm not mad about it. More love triangles should have that solution!

Two of the actors, Sonya Salomaa and Warren Christie, are married. Their characters are not love interests.

I love the movie posters in this genre. They're so cheesy but so much fun.

An Honest Fangirl loves video games, horror movies, and superheroes, and occasionally manages to put words together in a coherent and pleasing manner.


  1. I dig a lot of the posters of these movies, I'm trying to use more of them in my own reviews of classic horror, although many of them are just not representative of what actually happens in the movie!

    1. My favorite thing is scrolling through Prime and seeing a dozen movies that are all basically the same exact poster but a slightly different font.

      At least this one is pretty representative! It caught my eye only because I was trying to figure out how they messed up their shark so badly. (Not realizing, of course, that it was a goblin shark.)

  2. Water metaphors can never be too heavy-handed in a shark attack movie!

  3. The goblin sharks can't get to me if I stay on land, right?

    I'd never heard of them until this review and now I'm terrified.

    1. They're really cool! Scary looking, but that's kinda why they're so cool. Especially their jaws and how they work. Although sharks in general are some of the coolest things ever to me, so I am very biased.

      And, no, they can't get you on land... unless they become ghost sharks. ; )


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