A version of this review appeared in The Age, September 20, 2012.
It's often argued that Australian directors ought to concentrate on making crowd-pleasing genre films, which would be all well and good if it meant living up to standards set by the likes of Joss Whedon and Bong Joon-ho. In practice, the results are often closer to Kimble Rendall's Bait 3D, a cheap-and-cheerful B-movie tailored for a drive-in circuit that no longer exists.
To be fair, Bait has a nifty premise, originally devised by none other than Razorback director Russell Mulcahy, an enduring cheese manufacturer who seems to have quit the production in order to work on MTV's Teen Wolf reboot. After a tsunami sweeps across the Gold Coast, a handful of mainly youthful survivors find themselves trapped in a ruined supermarket, huddled on shelves above the water. With not one but two great white sharks in the immediate vicinity, it's a fair bet that not more than half the cast will last till the closing credits.
Much of Bait is frankly awful, though not unenjoyably so. In between the flamboyantly staged deaths, the characters mark time with confessional monologues and testy banter – enabling some of the most transcendently bad acting in recent Australian cinema, notably from Adrian Pang as the seemingly robotic store manager and Dan Wyllie as a growling crook. The action is largely confined to the supermarket and an adjacent carpark, but a few computer-generated shots allow Rendell to depict the destruction of a tourist paradise with unabashed glee. Oddly, he misses the opportunity for a satirical subplot in the manner of Jaws or Piranha. Surely, in this setting, there ought to be room for a greedy developer or two.