Great White tells a familiar tale — tourists, in pursuit of an idyllic vacation, instead find themselves pursued by a shark. When it comes to horror and thriller films, there are certain sub-genres where a formulaic approach is expected. Great White delivers on both the formula and the fun. It’s an enjoyable shark film, that even those who don’t consider themselves to be afraid of sharks will find themselves stressed out by.
Katrina Bowden and Aaron Jakubenko star as couple Kaz and Charlie, who run a charter plane business together. The two of them have a chemistry (and overall look) similar to Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. When the pair pick up another couple for what’s meant to be a short trip to Hell’s Reef, there’s immediately something fishy between the patrons and Charlie and Kaz’s employee, Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka). While Kaz and Charlie are a happy couple — about to get married, in fact — there’s a weirdness between Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshie) and her partner Joji (Tim Kano).
Before long, the five strangers are stranded together on a lifeboat while they’re being threatened by a vicious shark. It turns out that Joji is absolutely the last person you’d wanted to be stranded anywhere with. While he wasn’t a pleasant tourist to begin with, stress this guy out, and you’ve got one miserable know-it-all financial analyst on your hands. While the melodrama in Great White is heightened by couple Charlie and Kaz’s drama, there’s really not much to the story between Joji and Michelle. Each character is given a brief backstory, but there is just not a lot to sink your teeth into with Joji and Michelle – the performances are fine, but overall their story feels lackluster.
Great White does a lot with it’s small cast of only 5 (and a shark). While we know that, of course, not everyone is going to survive, wondering how they’ll make it back to shore and away from the shark will keep you on the edge of your seat. Will marine biologist Charlie somehow outsmart the shark? Will financial analyst Joji analyze his way out of the situation? What about Benny? It’s mostly a fun guessing game, but there are points at about halfway through the film where there’s a bit of a lull.
Great White is not an attempt at being an innovative shark horror film in the vein of 2016’s The Shallows, but it is definitely a fun watch and a welcome addition to the genre. You might leave feeling as though there’s a bit of unexplained hostility going on between the 5 main players, but, what’s it matter, anyway? Best not to think too much about these things — but no one watches a shark movie for deep thoughts on the delicate nature of human relationships, right?
Great White comes to Shudder on 11/11/2021.
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