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2012 | 90 min | R | 1.85:1



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Theatrical release date

 09 September, 2012
 19 April, 2013

Country of origin


Technical aspects

3D (native)



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Screenshots from Bait 3D Blu-ray

Bait Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 16, 2012

Despite its eventual failure, “Bait” deserves some credit for trying to pull off an insane scenario capable of reigniting the killer shark subgenre. There are moments here, albeit few and far between, where director Kimble Rendall seems like he’s found a way to make this low-budget shocker work on a limited scale, playing with claustrophobia and oddity to turn a ridiculous script into a credible machine of terror. Scares are absent and the performances are wretched, yet “Bait” deserves a participation ribbon for its willingness to take an aquatic hunt into an unexpected direction, using recent world woes to inspire a shark tale that’s poorly executed yet charmingly absurd.

After a traumatic experience with a bloody shark attack, lifeguard Josh (Xavier Samuel, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”) has thrown away a promising life with fiancée Tina (Sharni Vinson, “Step Up 3D”), spending a year in a depressive fog, taking a cruddy job stocking shelves at an Australian supermarket to numb himself. When an earthquake hits during a robbery attempt by Doyle (Julian McMahon), a tsunami washes ashore, flooding the store and a nearby underground parking garage. Gathering a small group of survivors inside the building, Josh comes into contact with Tina once again, adding pressure to an already unimaginable situation. As the group works to dig out an escape route, a greater threat in the form of two hungry sharks materializes, sending everyone into a panic. With flood waters rising, Josh looks to defend himself against an unrelenting threat from furious fish, also trying to protect Tina from the dangers both above and below the water.

Co-scripted by Russell Mulcahy (“Highlander”), “Bait” is shark film on the prowl for a gimmick, attempting to mimic the terror-in-tight-confines structure found in Renny Harlin’s “Deep Blue Sea” instead of aping the oceanic expanse of Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws.” Taking the finned menace inside a flooded supermarket, the material creates a unique man vs. wild situation, utilizing a real-world nightmare of deadly tsunami waves as a way to motivate the action indoors, splitting time between stranded customers taking refuge on top of shelving units and the hapless few caught in the parking garage, including a young couple stuck in a submerged car with their dog, surrounded by murky water and intense shark interest. The screenplay keeps the set-up violent and quick, rushing to establish the location, sketch out the mildly stereotypical players, and introduce the enemy, making the first act of “Bait” promising with its B-movie speed and master plan of easy thrills.

Instead of trusting the inherent chaos of the concept, the screenwriters insist on fleshing out characterizations, often stopping the action to detail the lives of fairly boring people, often in possession of bubble gum philosophy. Personality quirks and angst are thickly drawn to clarify the tension, greeting a teen shoplifter (Phoebe Tonkin), her cop father, and the supermarket employee she loves. There’s also the question of Doyle and his villainous intentions, accelerated by the shooting death of a hostage moments before the quake hits. The bruised love story between Josh and Tina eats up most of the focus, with the estranged lovers learning to trust each other again as the sharks circle ominously, occasionally gobbling up unlucky souls daring to navigate store aisles alone.

The sharks of “Bait” should’ve never been revealed. Created with lousy visual effects (we’re talking SyFy-style work), the sharks are never believable, killing the suspense of the piece every time they pop in for a close-up. The horror is best left to the shadows, where imagination reigns, yet “Bait” doesn’t share the patience. The first shark sighting alone is sure to induce roars of laughter, diffusing the tension Rendall would like to think he’s building. It’s a low-budget production, yet the filmmakers insist on keeping the CGI sharks on view, despite their laughably crude appearance. More successful are scenes of underwater evasion, including one memorable sequence that finds a survivor dressed up in a makeshift diving suit created out of wire shopping baskets (canned fruit act as his leg weights), sent into the unknown to shut off the power. It’s a goofy moment, but far more effective than the sight of a pixelated shark repeating animated moves.

“Bait” never kicks into overdrive, escalating the shark invasion to a place of pure intensity. It often dawdles to make a 90-minute run time, focusing on droopy performances and bland characters when most viewers would rather have a furious survival picture filled with gore zone highlights and delirious intensity. The “sharks in a store” concept deserves a more blissfully B-movie plan of attack.

Starring: Phoebe Tonkin, Xavier Samuel, Julian McMahon, Sharni Vinson, Lincoln Lewis, Alex Russell
Director: Kimble Rendall

» See full cast & crew

Bait, Forum Discussions

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Bait 3D (2011) 4 Nov 04, 2010

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