MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Avalanche Sharks’ Has Bite, But No Brains


Film: Avalanche Sharks
Starring: Alexander Mendeluk, Kate Nauta
Directed By: Scott Wheeler

Monster movies have never been for everybody. From the dawn of cinema–when the likes of King Kong first appeared–there have been some who simply do not grasp why so many people enjoy watching poorly realized fictional creatures terrorize people on screen. I’ve never been one of those people, but I’ve certainly known a few. I’ve even dated a couple (if we’re being completely honest) but eventually their inability to appreciate the fantastic goodness of b-movie carnage drove a wedge between us that no amount of sweet nothings could fix.

Avalanche Sharks, the latest film from visual effects guru Scott Wheeler, is not likely to convince anyone who isn’t already a fan of monster movies to suddenly change their mind…but that’s perfectly okay. Not every film needs to be a genre-defining masterpiece that raises the bar for all stories that follow. Some films, especially those that full under the direct-to-video world of science fiction and horror, simply need a decent story, believable actors, and enough of an original monster idea to stand out from the ever-growing competition. This film has at least two of those bases covered (the acting is a mess), and that is more than I can say for most monster movies as of late.

The story of Avalanche Sharks is largely diluted within the film itself by the need to introduce numerous future victims, but essentially what unfolds is the result of illegal explosive detonation on the backside of a mountain that doubles as a popular ski destination for white twenty-somethings with too much money and too few brain cells. On the day before spring break is set to begin, a random detonation causes the grave of long-deceased Native Americans to be disturbed, which unleashes a breed of menacing ghost sharks that wreak havoc on winter sports enthusiasts of all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Yeah, you read that right: ghost sharks.

The film wastes essentially no time unleashing the ancient beasts on unsuspecting people. However, after their initial introduction, the film suffers from a major bout with underwhelming, yet overly long exposition sequences intended to make you care about characters so thin you could see through their personality if such a thing could be held against a light. That said, considering the film’s runtime falls short of 80 minutes with the addition of the sequences, I would hate to know how long the feature would run without them. My guess is that you could cut it down enough to make the film work as a crazy, one-hour special on the SyFy channel, but I could be wrong.

Acting aside, there isn’t much you could hope to find in a monster movie that isn’t present somewhere in Avalanche Sharks. You have the crazy local resident who knows more than people believe, the random ‘hot chicks’ who serve their purpose as eye candy right up until they are devoured, the sheriff who doesn’t believe the teens’ cries for help, and of course, plenty of CGI carnage. The shark spirits can move through snow, wood, metal, and even plastic the same way regular sharks would through water. But, due to poor digital follow-through they almost never leave an actual trail on screen. Their presence is only witnessed when it serves to up the tension of the moment, then they disappear until the moment of attack. It’s never really scary, but the payoff for each and every murder is guaranteed to quench the average horrorhound’s blood thirst.

I won’t go as far as to say Avalanche Sharks is a modern monster movie masterpiece because it certainly is not, but you could do a lot worse in the world of direct-to-video science fiction filmmaking. Scott Wheeler has made magic happen on a shoestring budget, and while the results can be silly at times, the final product is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure for anyone looking to have their need for monster mayhem fulfilled. Will it be remembered in three years? Probably not. Titles like this come out so often it’s amazing any ever get press attention at all, let alone linger in the minds of film fans long enough to be celebrated years later. Avalanche Sharks is not that kind of movie. It’s dumb, admirably made, yet laughably rendered entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less.


Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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