Great White: The Strangely Dull Shark Survival Horror

Great White film 2021
Shark!

Hooray! New for 2021 is the latest in a series of recent dumb shark movies, ranging from The Shallows (2016) through to The Meg (2018).

And Great White doesn’t disappoint. It’s a masterclass in mindless popcorn fodder and it features to very belligerent sharks.

Great White the Life Raft of a Shark Film

Directed by Martin Wilson, this is an Australian survival horror film with sharks.

When something like this comes out, as with 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, you know it’s for teenagers who probably have never even seen Jaws.

And that’s fine. It must be fun coming to Great White minus the knowledge of the genre’s many, many tropes.

But for those with the knowledge, it’s a bit different. Like, omg, did we go into this to watch it ironically? Whatever, we like the daft fun of shark movies.

The Plot of Great White (with spoilers)

Right… having watched this thing wanting a bit of dumb fun, we were left rather disappointed by the whole experience.

It’s main problem is, through a contrived set of circumstances, it lands its cast stranded in the ocean in a Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea sense.

That’s about Steven Callahan’s incredible 1982 survival story. Great White just does it in a far more boring way.

As with many other shark movies, this one opens with a wealthy couple drinking and rollicking in the water near their boat.

They’re in Australia in a region of water called Hell’s Reef (foreboding, you see?). Guess what’s going to happen!? This is the Deep Blue Sea (1999) opening that establishes sharks are dangerous. But to be fair, it’s actually pretty well done.

After they’re murdered to death, a seaplane business operator and his customers stumble across one of the corpses.

Here we have the seaplane boss Charlie Brody (Aaron Jakubenko) and his girlfriend Kaz Fellows (Katrina Bowden). The two most conventionally good looking humans since time began.

They’re joined by passengers Joji Minase (Tim Kano) and his wife Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi). They’re visiting Hell’s Reef as Michelle’s grandfather once visited there.

There’s also the “comedic relief” character and Benny(Te Kohe Tuhaka) hanging around who’s a cook. We forget why he was there to begin with.

Anyway, they call the coastguard over the dead body and decide to search for the dead couple’s boat.

When they locate the boat and land in the seaplane, naturally the shark attacks the seaplane, it sinks, and they all get into a life raft in the middle of nowhere. The coastguard doesn’t know they’re there!

This all happens in the first 30 minutes of the film, leaving another painfully dull hour of the production ahead.

We’re quite baffled by this one. The script is by Michael Boughen, but it’s almost like he just couldn’t be bothered thinking of adding any drama to proceedings.

There are large chunks of the film involving Charlie staring out to the ocean with a kind of earnest dread on his face.

Meanwhile the Joji character is a total bellend, spending the entire film belligerent and needlessly antagonistic.

And barely anything happens! They’re on the raft floating about, occasionally some issue occurs, and that’s your film. Here are a few examples:

  • Michelle drops a paddle and Kaz swims out to get it. But she isn’t devoured by the sharks even though they appear behind her but, amazingly, can’t swim fast enough to get her. 
  • A great white flips the life raft and everyone climbs back into the raft.
  • Joji gets annoying and belligerent about stuff.
  • Lots of staring into the middle-distance from Charlie.

The first character death is with Benny and it’s painfully moronic and strikes us more as his decision to escape the life raft to get away from the dunderheads.

Pain in the arse Joji also gets wiped out in more convincing fashion later on.

But, my word, is the film dull. Take a look at All Is Lost (2013) to see how effective a stranded at sea type film can be. And that film only has one character and no sharks.

In Great White, whilst on the life raft, the characters bicker a bit, look earnestly into the distance, and complain about stuff.

But one day they suddenly wake up and they’re next to land. There’s a pitched battle to reach the island, with the film closing on an upbeat note suggesting they’re safe.

This bit plays out like The Shallows, but in a ridiculous way. And the film then ends with the survivors on a dessert island.

The camera pans out with upbeat music indicating they’re safe and well and that’s it, which is a Deep Blue Sea ending.

But the camera sort of reveals there’s nothing on the island except trees and they’re in the middle of bloody nowhere, so are likely to die anyway. Not that it sells this as a “dun dun dun!” type of finale, it’s just a way to wrap the movie up.

Well, we have to say the main problem with Great White is it’s boring. Nothing happens.

It isn’t scary. The dialogue is stunted and annoying. The characters are unlikeable.

There are some positives. The performances are okay and some of director Martin Wilson’s cinematography is brilliant.

The real issue is the script, which feels like it was written in 30 minutes by someone relying on every dumb cliché in the shark movie book.

We appreciate the young cast and crew will have put their all into this and many will be hoping it’s something of a big break.

But when you pack a script with as little action as possible and greenlight the thing for production, this is the result.

Great White’s Production

There aren’t many production notes yet as the film has just launched.

From what we can tell, most of it was filmed in Australia. At North Queens Beach on the Redcliffe Peninsula, north of Brisbane.

However, we discovered the film has the same plot as the 2018 film Frenzy (also called surrounded). Not that a concept like this was a giant stretch of the imagination.

And well, the film’s full release was May 2021. There’s little other information we can find, suggesting it was quite a small production.

The marketing campaigns are quite effective, with the trailer and poster promising a pretty scary and dramatic romp. But that’s marketing for you. The film just doesn’t deliver.

With some minor adjustments this could have been a more entertainingly dumb shark film, rather than a processional bore.

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