DVD Review: 'Sharknado'

★★☆☆☆
Every wondered what would happen should a tornado whip up a frenzy of sharks from the ocean and deposit them onto an unsuspecting American public? Well have no fear, as purveyors of DTV schlock The Asylum have stepped up to answer that question in their imaginatively titled Syfy Channel feature, Sharknado (2013). Swimming with ropey special effects, groan-inducing dialogue and a narrative so ridiculous it makes the title seem run-of-the-mill, it's fun. "We shouldn't be afraid of the sharks. They're the ones that should be afraid of us," claims a snarling sea captain in the film's nefarious shark fishing opening.

The captain, of course, soon meets a grisly end courtesy of hundreds of razor sharp teeth and the action jumps to Los Angeles and an aptly-monickered protagonist, Fin (Ian Ziering); pro surfer and waterfront barman. When the storm, and a wave of black-eyed predators, hits the coast, Fin and a band of pals head inland to avoid being eaten and to protect the hero’s estranged family. Along with randomly Tasmanian best friend Baz (Jaason Simmons), and flirtatious-barmaid-who-has-a-dark-history-with-sharks, Nova (Cassie Scerbo), Fin locates his ex-wife (Tara Reid) and they attempt to ride out the shark-infested storm. It's fair to say that sharks already have a bad rep on screen - just think Jaws - and this trend looks set to continue.

In Sharknado, it swiftly becomes clear that these creatures are naturally mean bastards intent on eating human flesh, and it makes for some ludicrous moments in which the monsters climb ropes and drag themselves along roads to chomp on a leg or two. Before they've even commenced their onslaught one character remarks "I hope the storm kills them, I hope it kills them all." Despite the madness of what is going on, Ziering manages to remain deadpan and hold things together with his completely straight performance as an all American hero. At one point, he masterfully rappels down from a bridge to save a bus full of school children using gear he happened to have in the back of his car; Semper Paratus.

This silly scene provides a perfect litmus test for Sharknado: if you find its absurdity hilarious, you'll enjoy the stupid fun; if you don't, you wont. Be warned, there's little actual quality to redeem this effort. As events become less and less believable and Thunder Levin's dialogue becomes more unbearable, it reaches a point where audiences will either go with, or they won't. It's far more knowing than Snakes on a Plane (2006) ever managed to be, but you'll most certainly be laughing at Sharknado, rather than with it; still, if the thought of a man shooting sharks out the sky with a shotgun appeals, grab a few beers and get ready for utterly preposterous fish-based carnage.

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Ben Nicholson

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