Shark Movie Review: Ghost Shark (2013) – The Daily Jaws

Ghosts are ubiquitous in human civilisation. In China, a culture of ancestor worship and folk beliefs make up mythologies and belief systems that have been adopted in neighbouring countries such as Vietnam and Korea. In South Africa, a gaggle of ghostly apparitions have been reported throughout the land, giving an insight into the country’s complex and sometimes tragic past.
In Peru, the highways are haunted by the mysterious and ominous ‘Ghost of La Gringa’ who is rumoured to be both the victim of a road traffic accident and a cause. Polynesian culture has a long history of ghosts, including one of a man sacrificed at a temple in Hawaii who appeared to his father in a dream to prevent his bones being treated dishonourably.
Even my local area has ghostly legends. There is reputed to be a woman dressed as a clown who haunts Flaybrick Cemetery in Birkenhead. Perhaps the most well known local legend is of a man who promised that Satan could have his soul when he was lying in the ground. When his death came, he was buried sitting up. Whether this was enough to trick Beelzebub is unknown.
Ghosts are something that, real or not, represent a deep fear within mankind. Death is the ultimate unknown. What if death doesn’t bring peace but torment instead, as is the case with so many ghost stories? What if we too suffer an unnatural end and are returned in such a way? And of those still living in this mortal realm, what protection might we have from the supernatural (other than proton packs)?
Presumably, these were the questions that the writers of Ghost Shark, Paul A. Birkett, Eric Forsberg and Griff Furst (which sounds like an unlicensed 1966 World Cup winner from Pro Evolution Soccer) respectively, had been pondering when they came up with the idea of this film. They may have also been influenced by Chimaeras (not the ancient Greek part goat, part lion, part snake
hybrid) which are also known as ghost sharks but neither ghost nor shark.
Ghost Shark is a made for TV film created for Syfy television, which will give you an idea of tone and quality before you begin. Having read other reviews of this film, I’m not expecting much although as always I imagine the writers had their tongues firmly in their cheeks when developing the idea.
That being said, I wasn’t expecting much from Shark Bait and ended up really enjoying it. No doubt there will be a cast of hugely irritating, partying teenagers who will get their just deserts for the crimes those kinds of people commit in horror films, such as drinking and fornicating. Will Ghost Shark put the viewer in the mood for revelry or can it fornicate off? Let’s dive in and see.
The film opens with some MAGA types who’ve got a live one. They’re trying to snare ‘the largest amberjack this town has ever seen’ for a rodeo. I always thought rodeos involved horses so I at least learned something from this film. The father, named Brubaker, and daughter, who I think is named Vicky, want to win so they can have their own boat and do their own fishing. I’m going to call them Donald and Ivanka. Just as they’re about to snag their prize, a great white shark appears and his the fish for dinner.
Furious, Brubaker starts shooting at the thieving fish and knocks out the boat’s captain for good measure. Before you can say ‘smile, ya son of a bitch’, Ivanka has appeared with a crossbow and she agrees to give it to Donald whilst she fetches what he calls his hot sauce. I thought this was a euphemism but does actually appear to be hot sauce. He shoots the shark in the head with an arrow and douses it in the hot sauce, shouting that the shark has cost him $30,000. Ivanka then actually shouts ‘smile, ya son of a bitch,’ and throws a grenade into the shark’s mouth, giving us some pretty terrible CGI effects. Think Powerpoint on Windows 2000 terrible.
It appears the shark has been vanquished. However, Donald has one foe left – the captain who he had knocked out. The captain is not happy with Donald and proceeds to lament his inability to stick to the basics of fishing. He threatens to throw Donald overboard to swim home but decides against it. It’s for the best as Donald’s life is about to get a little stormy.
Nearby, the shark has swum into a cave where is promptly sinks. This is despite the fact that every fish I ever owned floated to the surface when it died as did the shark in Jaws III. Having never seen a great white dead (or at least an unexploded one), I don’t know which is accurate but this is definitely the odd one out.
Unfortunately for the shark’s soul, the cave it swam into was not just any cave. It was a magic cave with magical symbols. One of these symbols looks like the peace sign but the one next to it looks a little like a cross that Combo from This Is England might like. Away from the cave, Ivanka is mocking the shark. The shark must’ve heard as it comes from nowhere in it’s new spectral form and pulls her into the sea.
Donald, who tried and failed to prevent his daughter’s demise, is now in the water too. The captain reaches out a hand to pull Donald in but poor Donald is dragged around and pulled under via a buoy. The captain is now all alone apart from the ghost shark. From his bucket filled with small fish that I am assuming he is using as bait, he spies a white light. Off camera, we see the camera that Ivanka was holding and hear the captain scream, combined with an obligatory blood splatter and the shark has had it’s revenge. We get a short set of credits and we’re through the introduction.
Some friends have brought water skies to the beach. We have Taylor (Brooke Hurring), Ava (Mackenzie Rosman), Blaise (Dave Davis), Cicely (Sloane Coe), Mick (Shawn Phillips) and Cameron (Jaren Mitchell) – all of whom play stereotypical horror roles. They are being watched by an old man at the top of a lighthouse named Finch, played by Richard Moll, who Blaise says should be arrested.
Finch disappears to his underground lair and offers a memento to a photograph before walking past the suit of armour he has for some reason and grabbing himself a refreshment. There is a sudden explained tremor and a convenient news flash and we’re above ground again.
Cicely and Ava spot the captain’s boat floating aimlessly. The captain is actually their dad and she is a little concerned when she can’t reach him on the phone. The pair swim out to the boat, leaving Blaise on the beach. They discover the camera and a bloody hat. Nearby, Taylor floats past the camera just in case you weren’t sure that she is playing the role of stereotype attractive female in horror film. Something bumps her from beneath and then does so again. Unimpressed, she lies still. The third time she is flung in the air. Realising that a ghost shark is heading her way, she begins to panic. Mick and Cameron are on a jetski. Mick ends up in the water and Cameron goes to rescue her.
He picks Taylor out of the water, ignoring her cries of shark. After he makes some suggestive comments she flings him into the water and scoots off with the ghost shark in pursuit. With both of Taylor’s friends in the water it’s now a case of who first. The answer? Taylor. The shark jumps out of the water from AHEAD of the jet ski and bites her in half, leaving her legs comically riding the jet ski for a second. Now Mick is the one in the shark’s sights but the girls on the boat manage to haul him in and we cut again.
Two people, who I assume are Taylor’s parents, are enquiring with a police officer as to her whereabouts as Ava and Cicely walk by. Ava informs them that something got her in the water and leaves the police man to deal with the fallout. There is a discussion and agreement on the meaning of the word translucent with the local sheriff but before they can cover transparent and opaque, Finch interrupts. He’s been drinking some more of those refreshments and has come to tell the group that ghosts are real. Another new arrival, Cameron’s father and Amity’s Smallport’s mayor, doesn’t believe that there was a shark and says this story could put the whole town on welfare for winter (please don’t stop me if you’ve heard these ones before – we’ll be here all day). He closes the beach for 24 hours and the group disperse.
Down town, the group are played the video from the camera, including Ava and Cicely. Why the police thought it appropriate to show their father’s final moments to them, albeit off camera, is beyond me. The sheriff still refuses to accept that there is a ghost shark in their midst and the group go their separate ways again – Cameron and Mick to a pool party at Cameron’s house and Blaise, Ava and Cicely to the car park where Blaise tries to offer support to Ava. To be fair to Ava, she obviously just wants to grieve, hence why she is skipping the party.
The sisters bump into Finch who behaves in a not at all suspicious way. Over at the pool party, Cameron is claiming victory over the shark to impress a couple of young ladies whilst Blaise just can’t forget about Ava. As he is texting her, a ghostly shadow swims beneath him. He quickly withdraws his legs but the corpulent Mick does a ‘belly bomb’ which just means grabbing someone thinner than you and pulling them into the water.
Mick is obviously the life of the party as his actions encourage more people to jump in. Blaise however is unimpressed and would rather be elsewhere. Having already rung Ava, he thinks a house call would be a good idea to see if she wants some company. Ava is glad he came however and wants to show him that video again. She has evidence that the ghost shark is real and Blaise is a believer now.
Mayhem ensues as a couple of frat boys at the party start a sort of fight. Having pushed his opponent through a fence, one of the boys then does a shooting star press into the pool for plot purposes, this part of the plot being where the shark is in the pool. It eats everything except his head which lands perfectly on top of a champagne bottle. The shark roars (hopefully as a joke) and Mick finds himself swimming away from the shark for the second time. Mick is pulled under water, dragging Cameron with him and we cut.
What seems like quite an old school ring tone is going off (although I realise that this film was only released ten years ago). It’s Cameron ringing Ava to tell her that Mick is dead. Cameron’s dad thinks that the party goers were all on drugs and started chewing on each other. Cameron says that it was the shark and his dad actually asks the sheriff to lock him up for a while. The mayor yells at various people but a deputy has conclusive evidence that it was the ghost shark in the form of a video. Blaise wonders how the mayor got elected when ‘he’s a total asshole’ but I assume he’s being rhetorical.
A plumber is coming to fix something at a house and whilst he is inside, a horny kid steals his car and takes it to a local bikini car wash. Nearby, three kids are playing on a slide with a hosepipe. The ghost shark lurks in the drains below. So much jeopardy. The only question is who is first? It’s the plumber. He is sucked into the pipes after bucking like a horse. Next up is a kid on the slide who gets eaten by some special effects. Last up are some of the bikini girls at the car wash, leaving the dorky kid crying. At least he might get to keep the car since the plumber is dead.
Finch is watching the news again and the mysterious goings on are the talk of the town. The newsreader explains that Ava, Blaise and Cameron are all persons of interest. He goes above ground and the shore is really close to his front door, considering he lives under ground. He chases a trespasser but ends up in the cave from earlier. Inside, the shark has surfaced and is lying dead.
Back at Finch’s perving tower, the trio break in to try to find Finch. He finds them and is unimpressed with their intrusion. He knows that they are here about the shark. He tells them that the cave brings things back to life too. He doesn’t tell them that he has been drinking although it becomes apparent. They haul him onto the bed and leave him to sober up.
Cicely is having a bath and fails to spot the ghostly light behind her as she plucks her eyebrows. She gets a moment of relaxing until the inevitable happens and dragged around for a few seconds
before being pulled under. Ava and Blaise arrive to find the bath covered in blood. However, the shark spits Cicely out and Blaise, thinking only of her modesty, wraps a towel around her before taking her elsewhere so she can receive some first aid.
The sheriff and the mayor have a pretty stereotypical conversation at this point. They get a call from Ava but Cameron pulls the phone away before they realise who is calling. Whilst all this has been going on, Blaise has somehow found out about Finch’s wife who died in a cave when high tide came in. Cameron meanwhile has figured out that sharks like water and figures that if they stay dry the shark might leave them alone. The police then arrive, missing the pick up truck speeding off, but stopping Cicely from driving away. The policeman asks if she is a little young to be driving, which is what I was thinking.
Finch wakes up with a bad dry mouth and on a sea dog’s version of Kirk van Houten’s racing car bed. Somehow, Finch hallucinates that the teens are trying to kill the shark with a cameo from his dead wife. For their part, the teens have made their way to a local museum. Cameron stops outside to smoke. Blaise and Ava learn a little about Finch’s lighthouse and also the caves nearby. A museum curator who looks like Christopher Walken’s brother spins them a yarn about people being executed in the cave and rising up to slay those left behind, reading from a memoir of one of the unfortunate souls who lived to see the zombies rise. The curator goes to fetch a book of spells but finds it gone, stolen by Finch. Cameron spots Finch but, in his haste to tell the others, puts his still lit cigarette out in a bin. Overhead hangs a sprinkler.
An alarm sounds and the curator goes to protect the artefacts. Cameron and Blaise get into a fight and Ava stays out of the water. The curator rescues a model lighthouse and the shark launches itself out of the water and tears off his arm. The trio run but Cameron slips. Anyone who has ever watched a horror film knows what this means and, sure enough, the shark appears and rips Cameron in half with more crap effects.
Over at police HQ, Cameron’s father is concerned about getting re- elected. He’s the mayor of shark city and that’s not something you want on your CV. A bored deputy leaves the the mayor and the sheriff to it and gets himself a drink of water. He begins convulsing and bleeding from his mouth and now we discover where the majority of the effects budget went. The shark eats it’s way out of the deputy, splitting him in two and vanishing into thin air.
Cicely shows up and confirms that she is too young to drive. Blaise drives her home and tells Ava he’ll meet her at the lighthouse. By now, the sheriff has received the news about Cameron and he has to deliver it to the mayor. Angry at his son’s death, he tells the sheriff that they are going fishing. It took half the town getting slaughtered but finally the mayor is taking the ghost shark threat seriously.
Some kids are playing the water of a burst fire hydrant. Blaise tells them to get out of the water but they take offence to his words and start to behave in menacing fashion. Blaise, seeing the shark about the burst out of the hydrant, floors it and drives at the kids, who scatter. The kids, who can only be about 12, start chasing Blaise and Cicely, just as the shark does likewise. It claims it’s newest victims, leaving two pairs of legs twitching in the road and the other kids wonder if they started a fight with the wrong people. Blaise looks gutted but I can’t say I feel particularly sorry for them.
Ava finds Finch in the cave with the dead shark and the spell book. The two discover that a spirit can be sent away by using a talisman from something that killed it. Out on the boat, the mayor has gone mad and tells the sheriff to start chumming. When he refuses, the mayor says he’ll shoot the sheriff. As there are no deputies around, the sheriff takes him at his word. The shark appears, taking the sheriff as it’s latest victim and all behind the mayor’s back. Suddenly, the sheriff surfaces in the shark’s mouth and the mayor takes aim although presumably every shot is hitting the sheriff if anything. The mayor fetches more bullets but makes the mistake of standing next to a toilet and, voila, he is the newest addition to the menu.
Ava is waiting on shore with the arrow that killed the shark. Blaise and Cicely turn up just in time, despite Ava instructed Blaise to take Cicely to safety. The shark appears again and Ava prepares herself. As it comes for her, she runs out to meet it and stabs it in the head in mid air. It jerks around before exploding. Finch goes out to fetch the arrow but the shark appears and takes a couple of his fingers off.
Back at the lighthouse, Finch confesses to the murder of his wife in the cave and he doesn’t want to blow up the cave as it may kill her again (or something like that – this film has long been beyond credulous). Ava finds a convenient spell but Finch takes the book at gunpoint and heads off, leaving the trio locked inside the lighthouse. He gets into a small boat and miraculously isn’t eaten whilst the teens escape the lighthouse. Finch climbs aboard the sheriff’s boat and finds the mayor stuffed into the toilet.
The teens continue their minor crime spree and break into a yard that just happens to have explosives lying around in the back of cars that are sat there. They take just the one box despite needing to blow a cave and head off. Finch gets back to his lighthouse and finds the teens but the book still in place. He begins reading but the book flies out of his hands, knocking over some ashes. The face of his deceased wife appears in the dust and the pages of the book fly open to a spell.
The teens make their way to the cave, breaking the ‘water is lava’ rule where they find a gun-toting Finch. He just wants to help though. They rig the cave and Ava lights the spark but it starts to rain. The shark, seeing what they are doing, uses the tide to surf into the spark and put it out. Ava goes to try something else but Finch answers a question I was just pondering and the shark appears out of the sky and swallows him whole.
The shark tries the same trick again, narrowly missing Blaise and Cicely, before attacking Ava, roaring as it does so. It jumps between puddles but fails to grab any of them. Ava has an idea but the shark
is in the cave water now. She smashes a lantern on the floor and the fuse is lit once more but, as she is escaping the shark leaps from the water and knocks her unconscious. She wakes up just in time to run in slow motion and she leaps from the cave and into the sea just as the cave and all of it’s ghostly energy explodes. Underneath the waves, Ava comes face to face with the shark, which swims at her and says ahhh. Cicely and Blaise mourn Ava at the surface but they needn’t have bothered as she surfaces. They all go for a swim and Blaise asks, ‘What day is it today?’ We fade to black.
Shark Movie Review: Ghost Shark (2013)
Quality of the shark/s: Not very good. The shark itself often appeared as a pale white (translucent) blob or a ghostly light. The CGI itself was not the best quality. I can’t even say the shark moved like a real shark does because it spent most of it’s time in pipes or at car washes or fire hydrants or bath tubs.
Underwater Photography: There was none to speak of. Other than the amberjack at the start of the film, there was no other marine wildlife and very little of the film actually required much water to be present.
Suspense: There was a certain suspense in wondering who was going to get it at times. However, the scene with numerous different deaths in different locations could have been paced a little slower instead of having them all crammed together. There weren’t really jump scares and once Cicely survived, I had a good idea of who was going to make it out alive.
Characters and Story: I thought Ava was a good heroine and I was glad that the romantic subplot between her and Blaise didn’t take up too much time. The film strayed into cliché a lot so I’m grateful that it skipped that particular one. Also, I’ve known way more annoying groups of teenagers in
horror films so kudos for that. However, the film would have lost nothing if it didn’t have the mayor, the sheriff and Mick.
As for the story, it was ridiculous. I guess that is part of the fun. The plot did mainly consist of new ways to get the shark into areas with water where it could unexpectedly attack. The exposition about the cave was a bit mad and probably a bit unnecessary. Why couldn’t the dead shark just become a ghost without swimming into a magical cave?
Watchability: Some of the deaths are quite funny in a sick sort of way. I like that sort of thing personally but it’s an acquired taste. Taylor’s death in particular brought some amusement, as did the mayor’s. It’s not going to get heart racing though and if I never see it again I can live with that.
Other factors: Sometimes I award points for Jaws references. Not on this occasion however. The smile line was accompanied by the worst explosion I’ve seen since Jon Moxley fought Kenny Omega. The mayor was a bad rip off and even stole lines from Larry Vaughn like too many other shark films. If I’m being generous, the random suit of armour in Finch’s underground lair (which had someone not ended up under water) is maybe worth a point. It is a stretch though.
Total – 13/50
Ghost shark gets the lowest score thus far. I still prefer it to The Requin but other than that particular film, I’d rather watch ever other shark film I’ve covered. As I said, Ava was decent and generally speaking the teens weren’t particularly irritating but the story is too ridiculous and the concept too wacky to really keep the attention. The kills are inventive to a degree but the plot relies on them to the point that it suffers.
The League Table So Far
The Reef – 41
The Reef: Stalked – 31
Shark Bait – 29
Mako: The Jaws of Death – 27 Pool Shark – 25
The Requin – 21
Cruel Jaws – 16
Bull Shark – 15
Ghost Shark – 13

Words by Jamie Tingle
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