There is blood in the water in this week’s DVD round-up
Co-written by veteran Aussie director Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, The Scorpion King 2), who last surfaced with 2009’s hit ‘n’ miss neo-noir Give ’em Hell, Malone, Bait (StudioCanal) follows what happens when a tsunami devastates a small Gold Coast town and leaves twelve people trapped inside a flooded subterranean supermarket. Even worse, they are trapped with a hungry Great White shark that prowls the aisles looking for fresh meat. With tensions already running high -the hapless victims were caught up in the middle of an armed robbery before the wave hit -the unlikely crew of survivors are forced to band together and attempt to fend off the bloodthirsty shark.
Mulcahy’s return to the ‘creature feature’ genre is undeniably intriguing, given that he was one of the main driving forces behind the Ozploitation movement of the 1980s, directing wild boar thriller Razorback in 1984. Boasting an impressively novel set-up, and a great underground location, Bait has plenty in its favour, but the producers’ dumb decision to crowbar in inexplicably trendy 3D elements is arguably the film’s weakest aspect, adding a cartoonish slant to an otherwise tense thriller. A solid supporting cast, led by Xavier Samuel (Road Train, The Loved Ones) and Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck), imbues the movie with a degree of mainstream appeal, even if the head-scratching presence of Singaporean stars Adrian Pang and Qi Yuwu -the movie was an Australia/Singapore co-production -feels clumsily grafted on. That said, if you can forgive the sporadic 3G intrusions, Bait is an entertaining little piece of pulp.
In The Facility (Momentum) seven volunteers -students Carmen (Skye Lourie), Arif (Amit Shah) and Adam (Aneurin Barnard), office temp Joni (Alex Reid), journalist Katie (Nia Roberts), estate agent Jed (Oliver Coleman) and unemployed Derek (Steve Evets) -arrive at the remote Limebrook Medical Clinic to take part in a clinical trial run by ProSyntrex Pharmaceuticals. In exchange for a fee of £2,000 the hapless participants agree to spend two weeks in isolation, testing an experimental new drug known only as ‘Pro9’. Unfortunately for them, the side-effects are even more intense than the doctors imagined, and shortly after receiving the first dose, one of the group flips his lid, prompting a series of increasingly bloody meltdowns as the remainder of the party succumb to the drug’s terrifying powers.
The Facility -which appeared on the horror festival circuit under the name ‘Guinea Pigs’ -makes effective use of its low budget, and its lack of household names gives it a realistic slant. Indeed, Steve Evets (Looking For Eric) is probably the best known actor involved, although Penzance-born Alex Reid (The Descent) also appears -adding some genre-friendly horror appeal to the proceedings. Where the movie unravels, however, is in its lack of character development and stodgy storytelling, which never quite do the premise justice -playing out in wearyingly predictable fashion. That said, despite its faults, The Facility represents a highly respectable calling card for short film director Ian Clark and bodes well for his future prospects -if he can find a script to match his skills.