Movie Feature

Can Louis Leterrier redeem the shark movie genre?

By AFP RelaxnewsMovies - 26 March 2015 12:00 AM

Can Louis Leterrier redeem the shark movie genre?

The French director behind the 2013 film 'Now You See Me' will helm 'In the Deep', the story of a lone surfer attacked by a shark, for Sony.

The thriller will be the latest in a long line of movies on the feared sea creatures, none of which has lived up to the prestige of Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws'.

Forty years after 'Jaws', Leterrier will helm his own shark movie, attempting to rehabilitate the genre.

'In the Deep' centers on a young female surfer mourning her mother's recent death. After being attacked by a shark and stranded on a reef, she must find a way to reach the shore before succumbing to her wounds.

The survival story, closer in tone to Danny Boyle's '127 Hours' than to 'Sharknado', will break from a host of mediocre shark tales shot with low-budget special effects, sloppy scripts and unconvincing actors.

'Jaws': the ultimate reference

Steven Spielberg's 1975 thriller remains one of the only respected shark movies on record. Widely considered as the first blockbuster, the helmer's second feature was a commercial success, raking in US$470 million (S$642 million) at the worldwide box office, and a critical one, earning three Oscars.

After a wave of unremarkable shark movies throughout the 1980s, including three 'Jaws' sequels and several unremarkable imitations and parodies, the genre found its second wind at the end of the 1990s with 'Deep Blue Sea'. Though not particularly well received by critics, the action thriller with Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J paved the way for a number of similar attempts ('Open Water', 'Shark Attack').

The post-modern shark tale

From the start of this decade, shark movies have become somewhat self-referential, and certain directors seem to embrace the genre's tendency towards cheesy premises and unconvincing special effects.

This has led to a series of deliberately improbable scenarios in which sharks attack plane passengers during a flight ('Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus'), mountain vacationers ('Avalanche Sharks'), beachgoers relaxing on the shore ('Sand Sharks'), and even a man attempting to fix a leaky faucet ('Ghost Shark').

Though '2-Headed Shark Attack', 'Sharktopus' and 'Sharknado' have hardly redeemed the genre's reputation, they have nonetheless attracted a certain amount of internet fame among irony-loving millennials.

The latter TV movie was even a ratings hit on Syfy, leading to two sequels, the second of which will premiere this summer.

Known primarily for his action films including 'The Transporter', 'Clash of the Titans' and 'The Incredible Hulk', Leterrier is expected to provide a much more sincere film, aided of course by Sony's financial backing.