Saturday, June 16, 2018

Vamp or Not? Shark Exorcist

This is a 2015 by the infamous Donald Farmer, who has made a noticeable impact in my Worst 100 Vampire Films. This too, if found to be a vampire film, would end up there.

However, before we examine whether this has a vampire aspect to it, or not, you might be wondering how some of these films end up being looked at by me. In this case author Doug Lamoreux posted about it in the Facebook group Vampire Films, my friend Paul tagged me; Hell, even author Nancy Kilpatrick got involved! I found the film for pence (more than its worth to be fair) and that has led us to the TMtV investigation of the film, which you are reading now.

the shark
So, the film begins with nun Sister Blair (Christy Moritz) – named I guess for Linda Blair – walking through a graveyard. We hear about her being hunted by the authorities for the torture and deaths of 13 children. She gets to the water’s edge (go with it) and starts ranting about the world betraying her and wanting vengeance through Satan (whom she is invoking through the rant). A girl comes up to her calling her a bitch and is stabbed for her trouble (and ends up covered with an inordinate amount of blood for the single stab) and then rolled into the waters; a sacrifice – we see a blazing eye shark.

more blood smear than bite
Cut forward a year and Emily (Channing Dodson), Ali (Angela Kerecz, the Vampire Diaries) and Lauren (Madison Carney) and are going to a lake – though moaning Lauren assumed it was a water park. Lauren and Emily work on their tans as Ali phones Bobby (Michael Ollin Lotten) and gets his voicemail. She goes for a swim and suddenly she is attacked (note that nowhere is it stated that this is a salt water lake, the concept of a great white being in a lake, full stop, isn’t tackled until 38 minutes in – and then barely, and the shark is able to attack in shallows without the viewer or character spotting it, indeed we don’t see a single dorsal stuck out of the water). Lauren finds her and pulls her out of the water. Ali has blood at her mouth and the most unconvincing leg wound (yes she still has her leg).

Emily and Ali
After a stock footage scene of a hospital and the information that Ali's injury is the result of one of several shark attacks in the area, we go to Lauren and Emily talking – Emily having visited Ali at the hospital and discovered that her leg has miraculously healed. Emily realises that Lauren has something going on with Bobby – well that’s gonna come back and bite someone – and we realise that the disinterested performance by Madison Carney is some of the worst acting we have seen. As the film moves on Emily becomes more and more worried about Ali’s odd behaviour and obsession with water.

possessed by the spirit of the lake
There are odd moments in film – more filler than thriller – such as the filming of “Ghost Whackers” where anchor Nancy Chase (Roni Jonah) claims to be possessed by the “spirit of the lake” and then rival sceptic Brianna Bennett (Kirstin Vanhooser) tries to expose her. The entire three-part act is virtually pointless (though it did make me discover the series Hicky the Hillbilly Vampire, which both Jonah and Vanhooser were in and that will feature here in the future) bar one line that suggests the shark eats flesh and devours souls. Then there was an exorcism moment, perhaps a memory of the priest of the film Father Michael (Bobby Kerecz), although it seemed to have nothing to do with him. Even Ali’s attacks make little sense story wise – she lures one guy (Father Michael’s brother?) – and dunks under water – did she turn into the shark or just lure him there? We don’t know, but later there is an attack in a pool and that really should have been mentioned as a logic-less attack by authorities (given it was a pool).

sharp teeth
Staying with the story proper, however, Father Michael is called to say his brother has died and heads to the town, where he finds Emily and they go off to a fair. Lauren and Bobby are there but have a disagreement, leaving Bobby on his own. Ali is hunting him and displays sharp teeth. In what might be, in another film, a telling moment, we see vampires on the side of the fair’s haunted attraction. In this, however, maybe not so much. When she bites Bobby, however, it is a neck bite. She is then captured and taken to be exorcised. Of course, the cross plays a part in this, as you would expect, but the exorcism itself is probably the dampest squib of an exorcism on screen. Props, however, for the line about needing “a bigger cross” (even a film as bad as this can have a redeeming feature).

funfair vampire picture
So, is it Vamp? Well she has sharp teeth and the possession was passed by a bite. We have to assume that the healing of her leg was down to the demonic presence (or the fact that there wasn’t a blooming mark to heal!) There is no evidence that she predates for blood but there is flimsy evidence that the shark itself devours souls – though no conclusive evidence that she and the shark are one and the same. However, the reference to soul eating is just one throwaway line and I am not at all tempted to say 'yes, this is vamp'. Perhaps I am reacting to how shockingly bad the film is – does the genre need another bad film in its filmography? Note that it is only around 60 minutes (some of its reported 71 minutes being a mind numbing post-credit sequence of a girl at a SeaWorld type centre – I assume – playing with plush toy sharks until she has a demonic moment. Probably the best part of the film was its DVD cover art – and that isn’t reflective of the film. NOT VAMP.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

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