Sadly, Shark Week is officially over, but in the true spirit of taking things to an unnecessary extreme that no one really wanted, this blog collab officially recognizes July as Shark Month. What could possibly be more American than that?
I stand by my decision to start out the month with—I kid you not—a made-for-tv shark attack period drama. It’s as glorious as it sounds.
12 Days of Terror
According to the trailer, this movie is based on true events that happened in 1916 off the Jersey Shore, which also sort of inspired Jaws.
The Uncondensed Version:
We follow Alex, a strapping young lifeguard who seems to be metaphorically floating along without much thought for the future. It’s clear pretty quickly that Alex is still really into Louise, his friend Stan’s fiancée (and, coincidentally, former girlfriend of Alex). Because wedding shit is apparently super important, Louise and Stan have ulterior motives for visiting Alex—Louise absolutely must make a decision about the color of the flowers on the wedding cake.
Early clues that Alex is sweet but not the brightest: he picks GREEN flowers because they match Louise’s BROWN eyes. WTF, dude? Green flowers are just suspicious, aren’t they? Esp. on food.
Anyway, this film gets right to the point because after about 10 minutes of exposition, the moment we’ve been waiting for happens—SHARK ATTACK. We’re just not sad at all, though, as the victim was this overly confident upper-class twit. Alex immediately jumps in to save the man, but the shark already took a big enough bite for the first life to be lost.
Commence the frustratingly oblivious officials and politicians who will dominate the inaction of the remaining hour and 15 minutes of the film.
Even though Alex insists the man who died was a victim of a shark attack, there is literally no other logical human in New Jersey, so no one believes him. It is, ahem, “scientific fact” that killer sharks don’t swim near the shore, and they’re not aggressive towards humans. Besides, President Wilson is just about to visit the small beach town, which no one wants to jeopardize. Plus there are many business interests involved that would be hurt if anyone admitted the beach might not be safe. So nothing happens and, in fact, the prime suspect in all of this is a stray torpedo, it being WWI and whatnot. DUDE, can you even hear yourself???
It really blows to be Alex at this point because the only person who takes his side is a drunk old sea captain/mentor who gives advice like “If ever your dog got hold of a chicken, you’d have to shoot it.”
However, what can he do besides keep calm and lifeguard on? Alex continues working and biting his tongue. That is, until one of the other lifeguards falls victim to the shark, yet the official reports keep denying the existence of aforementioned shark. This move is widely frowned upon, and even Stan says Alex looks like a coward for quitting his job. Dammit, Stan. Remember the war’s out there.
Now that Alex doesn’t have a lot to do except feel bad about all of his life decisions, he joins up with the sea captain to basically build a fence that will keep the shark away from the beach. Yeah, good luck with that one. The whole construction of the fence is actually quite impressive, though, as there’s absolutely no snorkeling gear involved.
Things seem to be going okay until the shark makes its way up a creek, where there are children swimming. The captain yells at the boys to get out of the water, and do they fucking listen? I’ll give you a hint: they’re boys. Stupid, stupid boys.
In an effort to save the boys, Stan jumps in to the water, which you can imagine isn’t going to end well. After things take a turn for the bloody, Alex is out for revenge. …Against the shark. Clearly. Because that’s a language sharks understand.
Either way, the last few scenes of the film are actually quite tense and emotional. I think you’ll end up feeling sorry for the people as well as the shark unless your heart is made of stone.
3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
It’s really difficult to go wrong with a shark film, even (especially?) a made-for-tv period piece based on true events. I unabashedly enjoyed this one even though it’s really annoying to (1) watch so many fuckheads go into the water even with repeated warnings NOT to and (2) see all of the so-called experts claim there’s no possible way the attacks could’ve been the work of shark despite an increasing amount of evidence supporting exactly that point.
Alex was so sincere (and, ahem, didn’t look at all bad whilst emerging from the ocean) that I couldn’t help wanting him to succeed. But being the only sane person amidst cripplingly incompetent assholes can boost your likeability factor immensely.
Did Christa jump on board with this or does she prefer to deny its existence? Read her review here to find out!
Full disclosure: I had to stop halfway through this and watch Jersey Shore Gone Wilde clips because of the number of times characters said “Jersey Shore.” Zero regrets.