a zoo in hell


Sharknado (2013)



If you read enough about genre films, sooner or later you are going to come to something about the allegorical nature of modern genre fiction. Going back to the very beginnings of both horror and science-fiction, we see a tendency to make subtle and not so subtle commentary on the state of the world. "Godzilla" and nuclear weapons, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and nuclear weapons, science run amok in all sorts of movies like "The Fly", "Metropolis", or "The Terminator". "Frankenstein" had a bit of everything; a little cautionary tale, a little indictment of human vanity, and body horror which was a century and a half ahead of its time.

"Sharknado" fits into the tradition by posing the question "What if climate change and overfishing created super storms that flung man-eating sharks into the air?" Watching "Sharknado", you can appreciate the intensity the filmmakers must have felt for their material. There is an amazing attention to detail in every digital frame of this epic monster movie.

While it is clear that the director Anthony Ferrante did his very best to coax every nuanced moment of the screenplay from his performers, this acute sort of performance rivals the visual mastery evident from the opening shots of the ocean to the final conflict with the flying sharks. Airborne leviathans is what they are really. Flying grey destroyers of worlds. The endless teeth of Nemesis.

The sharks themselves are rendered with such care and attention to detail that they challenge the god of sharks himself, Jaws, with their personality and menace. If this were in 3D it would be too much for the more weak-hearted members of the audience, no doubt. Yet for all of the allegorical flights into magical realism, "Sharknado" is firmly grounded in the practical "What-Ifs" of the situation. Like "The Walking Dead" every decision that the characters make is drawn with strokes of realism and practical solutions. We may not be facing flying sharks anytime soon, but if we do, we can turn to the survival skills of this plucky band of heroes for guidance.

Actually, no. This is pretty much just your standard SyFy dreck.