I cannot review SHARK IN VENICE so much as I can form sentences under a headline that categorizes said words as a review. Danny Lerner’s 84 minutes of strung together visuals do not qualify as a film. To be fair, I have no clue what they qualify as, but film is not a word that springs to mind.
First off, please re-read that title. Then look to the right at that magnificent poster. Revel in the asymmetrical plurality. One of them is a lie. Of course there aren’t any sharks in Venice. Multiples would be pushing the boundaries of absurdity, donchaknow. There is a singular selachimorpha stalking the touristy water ways, however. Or, rather, I should say that is the implication. A shark appears briefly at the beginning of the movie, pops up again 20 minutes in, disappears for 50 minutes only to reappear when it matters least.
So what I thought was SHARKS IN VENICE, is actually SHARK IN VENICE, is actually SHARK IN VENICE, BUT NOT REALLY. Under no capacity does this fall under the horror umbrella. It is not, as advertised, a nature-run-amok story, but a poor man’s poor man attempt at Indiana Jones artifact adventuring. Les Weldon’s script is bottom of the barrel, cash in your dreams product, of which the kindest adjective I can summon is ‘misshapen’. And did I mention it stars Stephen Baldwin?
No, I did not, because that, my friends, is what is colloquially known as The Punchline.
I hate to rag on actors. I avoid it as often as possible. They’re just working stiffs like you and I. Yet there is a reason I am not an undercover CIA agent. It is the same reason Stephen Baldwin is not a rugged, handsome college professor with dueling expertise in mythological treasure and giant sharks. Shit just don’t fit. Unlike Baldwin’s shirts throughout SHARK IN VENICE, which fits his form like spandex over a down pillow.
So we’ve got a lead who exudes all the confidence of a sad clown painting, a story that acutely involves a singular killer shark, and well, that’s about it. No, I’m sorry, that’s not about it. That is it. That’s all there is. SHARK IN VENICE is nothing more.
If the effects work could be called depressing, the overall direction of the film is clinical. Close ups are the name of the game, a sure sign of a director with either limited coverage options or limited imagination. In Lerner’s case, I’d wager both. Editing in frenetic scenes is incomprehensible as is the film’s logic, which allows on more than one occasion for Baldwin to be chomped about the head and chest without showing any sign of harm later on. Lerner’s idea of intense music is to steal the spiking, prime number harmonic used in CONTACT (literally; trust me, I know) and slam it together with string instruments.
Of course I’m not expecting anything of substance from a movie called SHARK IN VENICE, but one could at least assume that the filmmakers would deliver on the promise of that title. Serve up the fish king of the ocean, please, not some half broiled mafia/artifact/wannabe-Illuminati bullshit that coincidentally has a shark in it. I’d feel deceived if this was not precisely what I knew I’d find, but still…
Fuckin’ SHARKS IN VENICE! The title is the script! The title is the entire idea! Is it really that hard to make an even half decent movie or is it really just that easy to make a remarkably shitty one? You can’t paint a poster as awesome as that one in the top right and then pull this shit, can you? There may not be a cinematic law against it, but there should be. That’s just mean.