Whilst I was watching Ouija Shark, I could see hundreds of flaws in the film but continued to give the film the benefit of the doubt, assuming it was the work of young filmmakers on a shoestring budget. There were glimmers of potential and building blocks on which the creators could grow. That was until the film ended and I realized the director has been making films for 19 years… With that in mind, there is almost no excuse for the many sins entailed in Ouija Shark.
Directed by Brett Kelly under the alias Scott Patrick, he’s well known in the shark film world for having previously directed Raiders of the Lost Shark and Jurassic Shark. There are some glimmers of hope with his style, but the film wreaks of one take mindset. We follow the cast only ever from one shot viewpoint, allowing for no variation or realistic fluidity to build. More than anything else though in this film, he loses all popcorn for the outright offensive and pointless car washing scene. If you want to spend 5 minutes of your 65 minute film just zooming in on a young girl's breasts, make a different kind of film. Or at least make it have some sort of narrative impact to the rest of the film.
Longtime collaborator David A Lloyd penned the script for Ouija Shark. On a girl’s trip near the coast, Jill finds a mysterious Ouija board in the ocean. When the girls use the board, they accidentally unleash a spirit shark who wreaks havoc about the town. The core of the plot is a good, classic, girls go away to a mysterious place and unearth some ancient evil type of story. Unfortunately, Lloyd doesn’t do the hard work of developing the core characters, and the plot goes off on multiple tangents to different victims who are introduced to only be killed seconds later. At the start of the film there are hints that Jill has “been through dark stuff,” and she is clearly the outsider of the group, but none of this is explored, instead abandoned for a tick list of shark related vanishings.
Neither Kelly or Lloyd goes to the effort of explaining the rules for the shark – as Scream taught us, every horror movie has to have rules! Sometimes it can float through buildings, other times it can’t. For most of the film it’s implied it is haunting the girls, or the nearby forest, but it randomly decides to go munching in a dive bar part way through the film?
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Of the five main girls, we learn almost nothing about them as people. Jill has a “dark past” that is unexplored. Another is a stoner, and one runs off at the start of the film for her own personal bikini carwash montage, not returning until the end of the film. Instead of providing character development and allowing us to root and fear for the girls, many other random characters are thrown into the plot, including some randy teenagers in the park, an alcoholic police officer, a mystic, and Jill’s dad who provides the least subtle exposition I’ve ever seen. Every single character in the film has promise, but most are killed off long before we learned to care for them. Where is the explanation for this deep knowledge of the occult Jill’s dad has? How does he know how to shoot lasers in heaven? Why does Jill drive around with a shotgun in her car? So many unanswered questions.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
There are some pretty decent songs, even during the grossly unnecessary car wash scene. When Jill decides it’s time to fight the song choice is perfect as she grabs her kicking ass outfit and gun. Unfortunately at times the sound levels fluctuate back and forth between different speakers, so it loses some of it’s score, but the soundtrack was good.
Look. The effects for the shark aren’t great. They’re downright bad. I’m sort of convinced one of the two stock animations is actually a stuffed toy shark? But that’s not the point, because half the fun of these films in the silly CGI and over the top effects. Laser orbs in Heaven did look pretty damn cool too. I was also impressed by a poolside scene after a shark killing where blood splatters were used to great effect… though every other killing involved the victim simply vanishing out of existence, so that brings me back to those unclear rules.
"...It wants to fall into the “so bad that it’s good” category, but it doesn’t..."
Ok. Ouija Shark is not a good film. It wants to fall into the “so bad that it’s good” category, but it doesn’t. It’s just not good, and those flaws are all downright lazy filmmaking. This is no Sharknado, and whilst it might find a small audience, there are far better terrible shark movies to spend your time enjoying and laughing at. Poor Ouija Shark deserved better.