Swim (2021) and Shark Season (2020)

It was only a matter of time before the groovy retro-folks at Asylum poured the remote “slasher” cabin genre into the endless flood of CGI shark flicks. Now, for most streamers, that fact would be a “nuff said,” and they’d hit the big red streaming button on another film: not me.

The director behind this Cape Fear-inspired sharkster (with actually pretty decent CGI sharks in place of Robert Mitchum, or Robert De Niro, for the remake fans) is the prolific workhorse that is Jared Cohen, already in a 45-films deep career in just over 20 years with titles across the Asylum and Lifetime “damsel” spectrums. I also think Cohn did a fantastic job with the budget-conscious, yet effective, Lynyrd Skynyrd rock biography, Street Survivors.

“We’re gonna need a bigger house.”

An additional enticement is my recognizing former ’80s teen actor Andy Lauer in the cast . . . playing a grandfather! Being a huge Highway to Heaven fan, I can tell you, without looking it up, that Andy appeared in the “The Source,” a 1989 episode concerned with high school newspaper intrigue. Since then, he’s worked as a guest star on a wide array of TV series and feature films, as well as directing. Courtesy of our Fred Olin Ray obsessions at B&S, we’ve seen Lauer in the Hallmark X-Mas flick, A Christmas Princess.

On the youthful end: when you can’t get the ubiquitously experienced and always reliable shark thespian Ian Ziering: call-in another former TV child actor in the form of Joey Lawrence, who’s always on-point as the resourceful, put-upon dad for the Asylum and Lifetime shingles (and he was really good as Aaron Wright during the 2017 to 2019 season of TV’s Hawaii Five-O).

Don’t waste your time arguing with kids lining up to be a cold lunch.

“Go upstairs, kids. I’m gonna fuck up a shark!”
— Mama Brody ain’t got nuthin’ on Mama Samson

So goes this man vs. nature romp for the Syfy Channel crowd, but, since we’ve got that in-the-moment funny line o’ profanity (nicely played by TV’s General Hospital‘s Jennifer Field), we’re over-the-top content platform exclusive-streaming with Fox’s Tubi channel, where F-bombs can drop.

So, it’s time for the Samson family’s yearly coastal vacation . . . when a freak storm traps Field’s mom with her plucky granddad (Andy Lauer, taking to the water tank like a champ) and her (thankfully, not angst-obnoxious) teens. As the waters rise, the first, then second floor of the beach rental, floods, with a hungry shark — say, instead of a gaggle of Romero zoms — swimming in seige through the house. Meanwhile, Lawrence’s dad is our ersatz Roy Scheider: he planned to meet up with the fam at the house, but now, in the eye of the storm, he fights mother nature to get to his family, as they find themselves trapped on the roof.

The experienced, but largely unknown cast (the young Daniel Grogan as the teen son is good, here) are solid in what looks like a tough, waterlogged shoot. Jared Cohn delivers his usual goods, with everything obviously shot on sound stages and in water tanks — yet it looks like it was shot, Kevin Reynolds Waterworld-style, on location. The computer waters spliced with the real waters are seemless, the shark, is, again, one of the best computer-jaws I’ve seen of late, and the computer blood, for once, has weight (could it have been practical, in camera?). In addition, the nighttime cinematography is sharp (half the film is at night, but not too dark than we can’t see what’s happening), as is the editing.

If you’ve spent any amount of time slopping around the B&S About Movies confluence, you know we love our shark flicks* on this end of the ol’ Allegheny. So, we consider ourselves “experts,” as it were. Maybe my being partial to all things Jared Cohn skews my critical radar . . . but when it comes to low-budget shark retreads, Cohn delivers the goods.

You can stream Swim as a Tubi premiere exclusive.

Shark Season

Hey, what’s this? Jared Cohn did a shark flick in 2020 with Michael Madsen?

Well, really starring Paige McGarvin, but she wasn’t in a Tarantino flick, was she?

Currently steaming as a pay-per-view on Amazon Prime and You Tube, Shark Season concerns a great white stalking three kayakers trapped on a remote island — in danger of flooding to a freak high tide. So, yeah, like Swim? A little bit, a little bit. (Know your De Niro lines, chum.)

As with the cast in Swim: my hit-the-big-red streaming button enticement is Michael Madsen buoying an unknown cast of buff n’ beach bod twenty-somethings playing younger. The Madsen caveat, however: we’re dealing with an Eric Roberts-name-on-the-box role with Micheal not frolicking in the water kicking Selachimorpha ass: he’s on cellphone at a table at a beach house, talking his daughter through the danger.

Sure, the model here is the survival horror that is 2016’s The Shallows starring Blake Lively, and none of the femme fatales, here, are on that thespian level. Juliana Destefano (of the really fun Asteriod-a-Geddon; we had a ball with Meteor Moon, as well) and Paige McGarvin may be new to the streaming-verse but each come with a half-a-decade experience, so I won’t let the Madsen bait-n-switch ruffle me to the point of dumpin’ the hate on their performances — which seems to be the case in the streaming reviews on Amazon and the IMDb that I read.

Again, Jared Cohn’s in the Asylum against-the-budget verse and, as with Swim, the cinematography and editing is solid, but, uh, the CGI is a little bit weaker this time (a little bit, a little bit). The acting’s just fine in my book, so I am sure we’ll see more of Destefano and McGarvin damseling it up on Lifetime and romancing in the Lifetime X-Mas snows, soon than later. Hey, someone has to be a cheerleader or stalked patient, right? They’re up to the thespin’ challenge.

* In the middle of July, we rolled out a “Shark Weak” of reviews. During the earliest days of the site, we also rolled out a “Bastard Son of Jaws Week” and “Exploring: Ten Jaws Ripoffs” featurette. Yeah, that’s a lot of digital chum to swallow, but you can do it! Click those hyperlinks! Uh, oh. No we didn’t. We just did. Check out our review of Wild Eye Studios’ newly-released Jurassic Shark 2: Aquapocalypse, which gets a stream based on poster and title, alone.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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