CERT: 15 / PLATFORM: DVD, DIGITAL (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: MAY 17
The shark movie subgenre is often a murky one, with the misses most certainly outweighing the hits. Now, from director Martin Wilson, comes another ominous dip in the ocean in the form of Great White - and it’s time to see whether this toothy feature manages to keep its head above the water.
After an opening that is very much the standard tone-setter for such movies, Great White introduces us to the core five characters upon whose back this tale will be carried. When Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi) and Joji (Tim Kano) need a pilot to take them to a remote island locale where they can pay their respects to Michelle’s deceased grandfather, they turn to Charlie (Aaron Jakubenko) and Kaz (Katrina Bowden) to help them get to where they need to be. Throw in Charlie’s buddy and colleague Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka), and away we go.
You just knew it was never going to be plain sailing for this five, and the dead body of a shark attack victim is immediately spotted as soon as they make it to their destination. Deciding to explore the waters for possible survivors, things quickly take a turn for the terrifying as a Carcharodon carcharias – or, y’know, a great white shark – makes its presence known. With their seaplane swiftly out of commission, our protagonists are left with nothing but a raft and their senses as they find themselves stranded in the middle of shark-infested waters in a battle for survival.
Great White is an effective, tense thriller that finds itself drenched in claustrophobic dread once the shit hits the fan. And that’s not just down to the shark element, for Wilson’s picture does a great job of clearly establishing animosity between certain characters, which only further ups the stakes when the bickering parties are thrust into this gnarly situation.
Performance-wise, all of the main cast deliver when called upon, with Te Kohe Tuhaka and Kimmie Tsukakoshi particular highlights when on-screen. As for how the film is framed, Great White – like other similar pictures – very much shines when the ‘less is more’ principle is adhered to. That’s not to say that the sharks themselves don’t look solid, but more that the suspense of what lurks below or what has just swam by works better for Great White. As such, the film maybe starts to dip a tad as we get more close up and personal with this offering's apex predators, especially when some of these close ups don't look quite as impressive as the sharks seen in other recent releases. But hey, we have to remember that Great Whtie was put together on a pretty minimal budget, so some leeway can be given here.
For those with a penchant for shark movies, Great White is well worth taking a bite out of. And even for those who aren’t all that keen on shark flicks, there’s still plenty to enjoy with this one.