Sara Paxton, Sara Paxton, and Sara Paxton. Now that you know why I saw “Shark Night” in the first place, let’s skip the excuses. And it’s only apt, since “Shark Night” should really be called “All the Boys Love Sara Paxton.” It feels like the studio only had sharks in a lake as a concept for a film and basic outline. They then discovered they were casting Sara Paxton, and they basically built the film around her. What starts as a goofy yarn about sharks in a lake, transforms in to Sara Paxton vs. Sharks in a Lake. The film is a love letter to Paxton and her absolutely unique sex appeal. She’s a country born small town ideal college girl who everyone wants. Guys flirt with her, girls hang around her, and even her own dog refuses to leave her side. She engages in a high speed chase with the local sheriff who happens to be her friend and he laughs off her fleeing, flirts with her, and has a beer! Even after she and her friends are hunted by sharks while their friend bleeds to death from a bitten off arm, the men still try to get Paxton’s character in to the sack.
Thankfully, Paxton as character Sara Palski has a dry wit and sardonic personality as a character to where she is aware of how utterly sexually dynamic she is, but spends most of the movie trying to make everyone forget about it. At one point, two of her friends blatantly try to lure her in to the back of their car to squeeze in tight, and she sends in her dog to replace her, all with a slick smile and eye roll. Sara Paxton is the ideal scream queen for the modern horror cinema. She’s barely dime a dozen, has a quick wit, a very unique look, and bears some brutal acting chops when she decides she wants to impress. “Shark Night” is basically a seventies nature attacks horror exploitation film but neutered and tailored for teen audiences. It manages to be exploitative while suitable for high schoolers at the same time, and it’s a shocking accomplishment.
There’s a bikini montage, and every character in the film runs around in barely anything, all the while fighting sharks that have landed in a small town lake ravaging on tourists and townies. If this movie were R rated, someone would eventually have their tops ripped off by a shark’s teeth, and Paxton would don a skimpier outfit that would eventually culminate in a gratuitous scene of her sexing someone up on a beach. Paxton is, as stated in the aforementioned paragraph, the key to the film’s plot and entire premise. She’s the reason the group of college buddies are hunted by sharks, and she becomes the inadvertent heroine, being able to do just about anything it takes to help the people around her. The plot for “Shark Night” transforms from nature run amok to a basic slasher movie involving sharks.
Once we learn why sharks are terrorizing the waters of this small town, it’s so utterly ridiculous, you just have to laugh at it. This clearly isn’t a film that wants to win awards for logic, so it dives head first in to just pure idiocy, and never comes back up for air. The sheer notion small town folks could orchestrate this kind of gimmick without being noticed is just insulting, but once you see CGI sharks, and PG-13 safe bloodshed, you kind of forgive it for being so dunderheaded. And there’s Sara Paxton. She’s so bad ass she steals the gun off of her captor while in a cage. Suck on that, Lara Croft. Donal Logue twirls his mustache as a villain, Sara Paxton looks gorgeous, CGI sharks eat Joel David Moore, Sara Paxton looks gorgeous, a one armed man kills a shark, Sara Paxton looks gorgeous, and a loyal dog ought not be fucked with.