Movie review: ‘Shark Night 3D’

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Sharks have it bad enough as endangered, misunderstood predators with a terrible public relations image without seeing their serial-killing stardom drowned out by hammy acting and torture-porn villainy. But that’s the take-away from “Shark Night 3D,” a disposable hard-body-count B movie in which party-hearty college students (including “American Idol” alum Katharine McPhee) hit the Louisiana bayou for a weekend of looking tan and beautiful so moviegoers can hit the multiplex for low-rent “Jaws"-knockoff carnage.

Writers Will Hayes and Jesse Studenberg introduce nefarious hillbilly-accented locals using carefully cultivated sharks in their saltwater lake as a private snuff film factory, a “Deliverance"-meets-"Hostel” lurch that — pardon the pun — feels like creature-feature bait and switch.

Director David R. Ellis gamely tries to bring the same hucksterish energy to the feeding-zoo genre that he did to his notoriously hyped yet sporadically amusing “Snakes On a Plane,” but apart from an appropriately shark-like keep-moving-or-die filmmaking ethos, the shocks are weak (see “Deep Blue Sea” for the original and freakier airborne kill). The comin'-at-ya 3-D feels more than ever like a vestigial gimmick, and there’s no Samuel L. Jackson.

Stay past the credits, though, and you’ll find a tongue-in-cheek rap video recap with the cast — and directed by star Dustin Milligan — that carries the kind of spoofy insouciance missing from the main attraction.

“Shark Night 3D.” Rated PG-13. Running time: 91 minutes. In wide release.