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Psycho Shark (2009)

DVD Cover (Cinema Epoch)
Genres / Traits:
Horror, Natural Horror, Thriller, Kaiju, Sharks, Cinéma Vérité
Director:
John Hijiri John Hijiri
Starring:
Nonami Takizawa Nonami Takizawa
Airi Nakajima Airi Nakajima
Megumi Haruno Megumi Haruno
Jun Kanaki Jun Kanaki
Mika Inagaki Mika Inagaki

1.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Beautiful girls are in danger. At Sunny Beach, a huge shark is waiting for his prey. College students Miki and Mai arrive on a private beach on a tropical island. They can't find the hotel where they booked their reservations, and have gotten hopelessly lost, until a handsome young man shows up, offering to take them to his lodge. But something is not right about the place. The owner's fingernails are tainted with blood and Miki feels something sinister lurking nearby. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: September 17, 2012
I'm really not sure what I expected when I popped Psycho Shark in earlier today. Considering that the movie was originally entitled Jaws in Japan when it was released in Japan (go figure), I thought that maybe it would be a Japanese imitation of that classic American movie - you know, same plot, same general idea, but with Japanese actors. I would have been fine with that. Alternatively, looking at the DVD cover, I thought that maybe it would instead turn out to be a campy schlockfest with loads of beach bimbos cavorting about in bikinis while getting picked off one by one by a giant CGI shark. I would have been fine with that too. Either way, I expected to see a horror movie where a bunch of people get eaten by a shark, but I'll be damned if the filmmakers couldn't even get that right.

I generally don't do this even for the worst of movies, but I'm going to lace this synopsis with spoilers. The reason for this is simple, as you will soon see: if I didn't, I would have nothing to write about. With that out of the way, the "plot" follows two teenage girls - Mai (Airi Nakajima) and Miki (Nonami Takizawa) - who head out to a beach house in Okinawa for a week of fun in the sun. The owner gives them a camera to "record their memories" with, and it doesn't take long before Mai starts making memories by hooking up with a local beach bum. However, Miki will eventually find tapes left by previous visitors that shows that Mai's new boyfriend isn't all he's cracked up to be: he's been killing off ladies for a good long while now, and apparently, he's been feeding them to the local shark god.

Maybe you read that and thought that it sounded good, in a campy sort of way. Shit, now that I read it again, it even sounds pretty good to me, and I just sat through the damned movie about an hour ago. However, trust me when I say that it's not good, not even in a "fun bad movie" kind of way. The reasoning is simple: Psycho Shark moves along at a snail's pace, and even though it only runs for seventy minutes, it felt like it was approaching seventy hours due to a severe lack of actual plot.

For the first thirty-five minutes of the movie, absolutely nothing of consequence happens: the girls arrive, they dance around in bikinis, and they splash water at one another in the ocean. This is not a case of a plot that slowly unfolds - there is simply no plot at this point. Then, we start to get some actual plot, lackluster as it may be, when we see that Mai's boyfriend has a shark key-chain. Gee, I wonder what that is foreshadowing? Next, Miki has a dream about a shark stalking Mai in the water, and if you're at least expecting a little action here, think again: all we see is a CGI fin moving through the water before the dream ends.

Moving along, Mai makes kissy-faces at her boyfriend for a few minutes, while Miki watches some videotapes of the previous people to visit here... and we at home get to watch the videos in their entirety. What happens in those tapes? Some girls arrive, they dance around in bikinis, and they splash water at one another in the ocean. As I mentioned, the movie runs for about seventy minutes total, and by this point in the story, we're creeping up on the sixty minute mark. Finally, we discover that the boyfriend killed one of the girls in the video, Miki realizes that this killer is alone with Mai and she runs to save her best friend, and... a three hundred foot shark jumps out of the ocean and eats the poor guy. The end, roll credits.

Let me say one thing right now: that scene with the impossibly large shark jumping out of the water and devouring a man on land? I fucking loved it. It was undeniably cheesy and it is every bit as laughable as it sounds, but still, I thought that it was a great b-movie moment. If the entire movie had been like that, I would have had nothing but praise for it; I love schlock like that, and a shark that makes the megalodon look like a minnow is alright in my book. That wasn't the case though, and it's a shame that sixty-eight out of the seventy total minutes was nothing more than fluff and padding.

I also have to point out that roughly half of the movie is shown either through the lens of the camera that the girls carry around with them or through the videos that the previous girls shot. I generally enjoy cinéma vérité films, but this one gave me a damned headache. Remember that scene in Blair Witch where they were running through the woods and the camera was shaking wildly back and forth? That's how most of this movie plays out, even when it's something as trivial as the girls chatting about their boyfriends. Mercifully, this sort of thing only occurred throughout half of the movie, but that was more than enough.

I have to give Psycho Shark a definite recommendation - a recommendation that you stay far away from it, regardless of how much you may love cheese. Aside from that final scene (which you can watch on YouTube), the only positive thing that I can say about the film is that it at least featured plenty of busty Asian gals in bikinis prancing around, but if that's what you're in the market for, you could definitely find a better title to salivate over. 2/10.
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