At only a little over an hour long, “Psycho Shark” (or as it’s being called in some circles “Jaws in Japan”) is probably one of the zaniest most deliriously bad movies I’ve ever come across mainly for its wacky directing style. Not much in this movie makes sense and director Hijiri John is such a fan of holding takes, that some shots are awkward. Any competent director will cringe at his knack for shooting people only below the waist and at one point holds a shot in the sand for over a minute after his actresses have left the frame. But take my advice, wait a while, be patient because I guarantee you by the second half… absolutely nothing will have happened. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies about frolicking Japanese girls, but if it’s a horror movie only a little bit over an hour, then you have to have some sense of forward progression in plot and this has none of it.
After a half hour there’s really only nothing but young girls bickering endlessly, peeks in to mysterious VHS tapes from main character Miki, and sudden shots of cliffs and women in showers bloodied. There is only one brief shot of a shark swimming through the ocean in an overhead and constant shots of a cliff overlooking the sea, and then a whole lot of nothing. Warning: If you’re not looking for the film to be spoiled for you, do not continue reading beyond this point. “Psycho Shark” is not really a monster movie at all, what it is is mainly a murder mystery and a horror movie about the same xenophobic themes we’ve seen for decades. The basic premise is what I suspected from reading the movie description on the box, that the local village is luring young tourists and travelers and basically using a man named Kenji to romance the girls and drop them in to the ocean to appease their local menace which happens to be a gigantic blood thirsty shark.
What’s absolutely ridiculous is that we’re expected to believe Kenji is such a good looking guy that these girls will willingly go off alone with him and trust him to do whatever he wants including bring them on a cliff and risk their lives. Main character Mai even gets cut by him with a knife and she wonders what it means from him. People this stupid deserve to be fed to sharks. Miki spends a good amount of time watching a VHS tape conveniently left over by a past hotel patron where she pieces together the identity and purpose of Kenji and stresses to her friend not to go off alone with Kenji and she of course refuses to believe her and goes off with Kenji anyway. There isn’t a single likable or sympathetic character in the whole film with the two protagonists depicted as vapid brain dead numbskulls whom are far too trusting to be anywhere near intelligent.
Meanwhile most of the plot elements simply don’t add up. Why do they keep video diaries of the victims? Why don’t the hotel owners check the rooms for guests attempting to leave behind evidence for future guests? Why hasn’t anyone else ever stumbled upon this humongous shark before now? Why do they feed girls to it? What purpose does it serve? Why don’t they try to kill it? Does it somehow feed the economy in their village? Nevertheless when we finally do get to the actual shark, it only appears in the final five minutes of the movie and it’s probably some of the most piss poor CGI you can imagine. It’s so blatantly CGI that it looks like a graphic from Playstation One, and director John takes great pains to prevent showing us the film’s flaws so when the shark emerges we only get a sense of how large is it through the eyes of the characters all of whom look up in shock and wonder and run for their lives and little else.
“Psycho Shark” takes itself way too seriously to be considered a decent monster movie, and it plays so much more like a murder mystery about a good looking guy who kills off guests only with the shark injected in to the script in the last minute. “Psycho Shark” is a wasted effort and a pure waste of time leaving nothing creative or remotely entertaining for the audience to bask in. The DVD Features an eighteen minute Behind the Scenes featuring the two absolutely beautiful leading ladies of “Psycho Shark.” If you notice the title of the featurette is “Making Of Jaws in Japan.” There are also trailers and a Still Gallery. Anyone hoping for a cheesy monster movie about a gigantic shark munching tourists would be wise to look elsewhere as “Psycho Shark” is a murder mystery set to the tune of a giant shark that takes itself too seriously, and requires enormous amount of patience for its audience to wait for the big pay off in the finale. And even when the pay off comes, I guarantee you’ll feel insulted and generally livid. It’s amazing how even the shortest films can make time slow down, right?