For a made-for-TV SyFy channel movie produced by the Asylum, Sharknado generated a quite absurd amount of hype. The way people were talking about Sharknado I was expecting it to be some kind of watershed film in the killer shark genre. I’m not really sure what I thought a watershed killer shark film would consist of. Certainly more parody.
Remarkably, Sharknado actually plays its premise straight – or at least plays it straight in the sense that it is acutely aware of its own absurdity. It knows exactly what it’s trying to be: a shark attack film fused with a disaster film. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite get there.
Don’t get me wrong. Sharknado is a whole lot of fun to watch and I can forgive most of its many problems. But it might have been stronger had there been more of an explanation for the freak hurricane. The prologue implies some kind of sharky retribution as it shows sharks raining down on a shark-hunting ship – but this is never brought up again. Perhaps there was meant to be an environmental message. I’m not sure.
The plot, such as it is, is thus: a freak hurricane floods L.A. with sea water and also sharks. The sharks begin eating people. The main character, a surfer, and some of his friends attempt to travel through the city to rescue his ex-wife and children. Some of them get eaten by sharks. Eventually the hurricane spawns some tornadoes. The tornadoes are full of sharks. Sharks flying through the air. Sharks.
It’s a ridiculous and sloppily written film, but all the important notes of both shark and disaster movie are there – and amazingly it manages to pass the Bechdel Test. It’s a tornado. Full of sharks.