In the tradition of Snakes on a Plane comes Sharks in a Grocer, or for short, Bait. Teens, criminals, and bitchy store managers are trapped in a game of survival as a tsunami washes a 12-foot great white into the store, where inhabitants must deal with their situation.
Melodrama ensues as contrivances place two ex-lovers together in a solid example of set design, while grievances are aired on all sides. Shocking no one, people die and emotions boil. Mercifully for the audience, the deaths are rather gruesome, including one of the best decapitations since My Bloody Valentine slid a shovel through someone’s mouth. Bait’s kill may not make any sense, but it’s visually enticing.
Despite earthquakes, a store filled with seven feet of water, and debris, Bait still convinces audiences (or rather, it tries to) that electricity still flows. Not only is it a device leading to a stock horror death because the genre says so, it’s the only way scriptwriters could find a way out of this mess. Bait carries a surprising number of survivors despite a shark that is impossibly hungry in such a short amount of time.
The film isn’t devoid of thrills. Much of the shark stuff is fun, but infinitely padded out with the character material that even the least experienced horror/creature fan could splice together without conversation. Bait has fun with audio-driven false scares, a stack of debris indicating the fish, and some enjoyable underwater taunting between a couple trapped in their car. They’re destined to become food.
It’s unknown who made the decision to shoot in 3D, but the end result is some laughably atrocious scenes begging to be compared to the infamous Jaws 3D. Bodies float with unnatural focus towards the lens, body parts strafe across the screen, and the shark is brought out visually with exaggerations to make it pop. No one is pointing at Bait and calling it art, but some respect for the non-tinted glasses wearing types would be appreciated. And besides, if you’re that desperate for 3D thrills, you’re doing it wrong.
Bait’s critical miscalculation is being familiar, produced with a firm idea that works great in marketing and then collapsing in a swarm of, “been there, done that” methodologies. The grocery store is less an object of interest and more or less a wacky location for a shark. Years ago, someone had penned a script for a sequel to the kooky Deep Blue Sea, and the idea wasn’t far from what Bait became. L.L. Cool J was to be trapped inside a collapsed hotel post-earthquake, and rushing water was to have introduced the menace. Bait needed more L.L. Cool J, and less stock players.
What a stunner we have here on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay, an instant hi-def classic with outstanding focus, fidelity, and contrast. Rarely does live action find itself this contained with an ability for the camera to zoom in on wet, sweaty faces on a regular basis. Bait’s remarkable detail is destined for the meager trimmings of a Blu-ray award season, at least if people take notice. In a year of catalog icons and summer giants, few probably will.
To do what needs to be done, it’s necessary to divulge the minimal concerns. Of course, underwater photography is less than stellar; tsunamis will wash in dust, sand, and other debris. Murkiness is only natural, and Anchor Bay avoids expected pitfalls such as banding. Even when faced with noise – and with the exception of two shots, it never rises above minimal – this encode tracks down the problem to handle it head on.
Occasional dimming in focus is all but an aside to the glorious display of tremendous fine detail. Every shot is awash with some form of crisp, hearty definition that makes you appreciate how great lens work of this style can be. Elements are assisted with a contrast that doesn’t make much sense logically, but continues to pour in from unseen locations. It lights up the screen with heated intensity, and allows for the light show that produces the dramatic boost in available fine detail.
Miniscule mishaps in regards to the black levels are quickly vanquished, and re-established saturation can live on. Flesh tones are not given an orange overhaul and yet still pop from the screen confines. Primaries shine from the opening shot of a beach that establishes both the stunning clarity and color density. To be clear, there are things to be aware of, but they can’t overcome how shockingly packed this film is with regards to the finest of detail.
Then you have the 3D which… just is. While some of the underwater footage is passable, depth is mostly staged with flat, cardboard-sque actors. Standing on the shelving units, the layering effect is far too obvious and artificial. Despite the stunning image quality, the 3D merely lessens it. There is more natural depth established with black levels and contrast than the glasses.
There are moments built for 3D, floating objects and such, while some are tossed at the lens directly. Those are fine and quite capable. This is not atrocious so much as it struggles to add anything, and even with the kitschy, exploitation style, it proves too distracting.
Anchor Bay rolls out with their rare brand of TrueHD 7.1, an effective treatment for a film filled with ample opportunity to produce results. Water is a constant presence, from waves on the beach pre-disaster to a constant drip from damaged pipes later. The environment is always established in the surrounds or stereos, and follows edits as the camera moves.
Bait chugs along with bulk jump scares initiated from the low end that bubbles up to add a presence to the shark. Bumps into windows or objects are greeted with a pleasing thud, although nothing that will roll over the tsunami or aftershocks to come. Those grumbling jolts are lengthy enough to create mini-quakes in your theater, wall-rattling in their power.
Action scenes are punctuated with panic, splashing water, and whatever the element at the moment may be. It ranges from sparking wires, the shark pushing aside liquid as it travels, to muffled underwater screams swallowed by an effective simulation of being surrounded by water. Superb work.
The only extra is a storyboard gallery. The menus feel a little anemic, and makes it seems as if you’re missing something.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.