Directed by Australian filmmaker Kimble Rendall and written by Russell Mulcahy and John Kim, Bait (or if you prefer, Bait 3D) begins with an opening scene in which a lifeguard named Josh (Xavier Samuel) is goofing around with his fiancÚ, Tina (Sharni Vinson), the sister of his friend and fellow lifeguard, Rory (Richard Brancatisano). When Rory heads out into the surf to check on a buoy, he doesn't see the massive great white shark that has cruised on into the area and while Josh heads out on the Jet-Ski as quickly as he can in hopes of saving his friend, it's too little too late and Rory winds up as shark food.
Cut to a few years down the road and Josh is working in a supermarket and wouldn't you know it, Tina wanders in out of nowhere with her new man, Steven (Qi Yuwu). While this is going on, security guard Ryan (Alex Russell) gets fired by the store's owner manager (Adrian Pang) when his girlfriend Jaime (Phoebe Tonkin) gets busted for shoplifting. The cops are called and wouldn't you know it, the officer assigned to the case is none other than Jamie's own father (Martin Sacks). Meanwhile, in the car park under the store, a young couple are making out unaware that just around the corner a pair of robbers, Doyle (Julian McMahon) and Kirby (Dan Wyllie), are planning a heist. It all comes to a head as a massive tidal wave suddenly hits the town and rips through the store, bringing along with it two great white sharks - one which patrols the car park, the other the store itself. In order to make it out alive, the survivors are going to have to figure out how to restore power to the flooded store and kill the sharks before they can kill them.
Bait starts off reasonably well and appears like it's going to do a pretty good job of developing its key characters but once that tidal wave hits, it's all about the shark attacks. This is all well and good, those are the reasons we watch movies like this after all, but aside from a little bit of tension that arises between Josh, Tina and Steven there's not a lot here to latch on to. The relationship between Jamie and her cop father looks like it might go places here and there but never really does and the rest of the characters are pretty one dimensional. For the most part, Bait is little more than a standard bodycount movie, much like a slasher film with a couple of sharks in place of a masked killer and it follows many of the same established conventions as those movies. As such, we're not dealing with anything particularly original here, but the movie is entertaining enough in its own completely superficial way.
The effects work is occasionally heavy on computer generated pieces but mixes up some traditional effects fairly effectively. The movie gets good and bloody during the shark attack scenes, using the obvious 'shot for 3D' trick of letting severed body parts float around in the water a couple of times. There are some good jump scares here and the sharks are considerably more menacing than you might expect them to be for something created entirely on a hard drive. The film sets itself apart from the countless other killer shark movies that have been churned out seemingly every month or so as of late by making good use of its location. The survivors spend most of the time perched atop the ramshackle shelving of the grocery store and are able to use the different props you might find in such a place throughout the movie. The best example of this is when Steven volunteers to head underwater to the other side of the room to switch on the electrical power and he and the others build himself an impromptu shark cage out of the materials that they have on hand. The movie gets a couple of bonus points for the creativity behind that scene, but with that and a few other minor exceptions, this is pretty much done by the book. It's fun, it's gory, and it's entertaining and for some that'll be enough. There's absolutely no shame in that at all - but those looking for substance have probably figured out at this point in the review that they should look elsewhere.
Anchor Bay presents Bait 3D in 2D and 3D on the same Blu-ray disc - these comments will apply to the 2D version. The AVC encoded 1.78.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer looks good. Some of the CGI work in the film is less than awesome, but you can't fault the disc for that. The colors in the film occasionally run on the dark side of the spectrum (which makes sense given that large parts take place in an underground parking garage and inside a flooded supermarket with limited lighting) but that's just part of the intended look of the film. Detail is generally nice and sharp, though sometimes underwater it is understandably a bit murky looking. Black levels are solid and color reproduction quite good. This doesn't rank up there with with the most amazing Blu-ray transfers you're ever going to see but it is certainly a very good presentation.
The English language DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track advertised on the packaging is nowhere to be found but the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that is on the disc is very good as it does spread things out nicely during the film's more chaotic moments and make good use of the rear channels when called for - the tidal wave scene being the most obvious example, it really roars to life here. The score sounds pretty solid here, lots of good bass response from your subwoofer when the music kicks in, while the dialogue is always nicely balanced and easy to understand. As you'd expect from a new film like this, there are no problems at all with any hiss or distortion and there's pretty good range here too. This is a fun mix, it adds to the lunacy of the film pretty effectively. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are provided but there are no alternate language options.
Extras? Not much, we do get a set of storyboards, animated menus and chapter stops but that's it - not even a trailer for the feature.
Bait doesn't reinvent the shark movie but it is a fun time killer with some solid kill scenes and gore effects that moves at a quick pace and offers up some fun jump scares. It isn't particularly deep and the story is superficial enough that the movie feels like more of an excuse to showcase some cool shark attacks than anything else, but it does at least get that aspect right. If not a new classic, this is at least a fun popcorn movie. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good but misses out on the extras by quite a margin. Worth seeing if you like shark movies - rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.