MANEATER Underwhelms With Less Bark And Less Bite

By Chris Hammond

Jesse and her friends’ idyllic island vacation turns into a gruesome nightmare when they become the target of an unrelenting great white shark. Desperate to survive, she teams up with a local sea captain to stop the vicious man-eater before it strikes again in this heart-pounding thriller.

  • Rating: R
  • Genre: Mystery & thriller
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Justin Lee
  • Producer: Daemon Hillin
  • Writer: Justin Lee
  • Release Date (Theaters): Aug 26, 2022, limited
  • Release Date (Streaming): Aug 26, 2022
  • Runtime: 1h 26m
  • Distributor: Saban Films

Written and directed by Justin Lee(The Most Dangerous Game)
stars Nicky Whelan (Hall Pass)
Trace Adkins (The Lincoln Lawyer)
Jeff Fahey (“Lost”)
Shane West (A Walk to Remember).

Sharkplotation films usually hit and miss with audiences. They are usually a mixture of the dramatic like Jaws, Open Water, The Reef or campy like Sharknado or Deep Blue Sea. Sway one way too far and audiences might not connect with the film at all.

MANEATER is the perfect example of missing more than hitting. Writer/Director Justin Lee admirably sets up the stage for an all-out shark battle in the third act, but the first two acts grind slowly ahead.

Nicky Whelan as Jessie Quilan is heartbroken over their wedding that didn’t happen. Her friends talk her into going on her prepaid island honeymoon. Here they hire a boat captain to bring them to a remote sandy location to party for the day. A “maneater” or shark is also hungry and ready to party too.

Here is the problem, the film doesn’t know if it is dramatic or campy. Sometimes the dramatic parts are unintentionally funny. When Harlan Burke’s (Trace Adkins) daughter is being attacked by a shark the effects are good. The effects shift to very CGI-heavy looking when the shark gets its prey under the water. The “stock” scream that they use also made me chuckle (I could be a little sadistic though). There are countless instances where the CGI titers from bad to worse.

The practical effects adhere to realism and actually pop as a high point in the film. Missing limbs and shark bites left on the skin are bloody and believable.

Pleasant high points include the acting by Trace Adkins, Nicky Whelan and Shane West. They all play up the realism with a very dramatic flare. Jeff Fahey would fall under impressive, but to say he is not used to his full potential is an understatement. There are at least three other roles he was perfect for in this film, but his five minutes of screentime is still fun.

MANEATER is a film that never gets out of the shallow end of the pool. Its plot isn’t original, it’s predictable and for the most part forgettable. It is a shame as the film has great potential to be another Sharknado franchise.

Saban Films will release MANEATER in theatres and on Demand and Digital on August 26, 2022.

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