Tuesday 27 August 2019

Surrounded (2018)

AKA Frenzy.

I have said it many times before, and will say it many times again. If there's a zombie or a shark in a movie then, for my sins, I WILL watch that movie. Which has led to me watching my fair share of crap. It doesn't always take a lot to put together those movies, and they're all probably guaranteed a certain minimum return, thanks to idiots like me.

Surrounded caught my eye because it had sharks in it. I'd also never heard of it before, which piqued my curiosity further. The plot summary didn't sound great - a group of travel vloggers take a big risk in order to get more viewers, and pay for that risk when their small plane crashes and they find themselves in seawater, surrounded by a few great white sharks - but it sounded good enough to entertain me for the duration.

Unfortunately, it wasn't.

Although things start at an admirably quick pace, I was worried within the first 15-20 minutes, and rightfully so. I wasn't sure if ditching so many characters early on would make the film better or worse, because it then really boils down to the strength of the leads. It made things worse, despite the flashbacks that punctuate the film, none of them feeling like anything other than unnecessary padding once we have assumed that most of the people we are watching are now dead in the water.

Director Jose Montesinos has a filmography that has moved from sex comedy territory (with Barely Legal) to more dramatic and thrilling works, like this one. He has a better handle on the comedic material, in my opinion, and that doesn't require him to work with such variable special effects or film moments that need better pacing and a sense of believability to be more effective. He's also not helped here by the script, by Graham Winter (his first screenwriting credit). Winter doesn't do an awful job, he just doesn't do enough in any one area to strengthen the movie. Characters are thin, the tension doesn't ever build (although that is less to do with the writing and more to do with the ever-changing quality of the sharks being depicted onscreen), and the structuring makes it a chore to get through, despite the fairly brief runtime (it's about 85 minutes).

Aubrey Reynolds is Lindsey, the main character who is at the centre of the majority of the scenes. Her sister, Paige, is played by Gina Vitori, and there's also a character named Kahaia, played by Lanett Tachel. It's a shame that none of them are really strong enough to do the work required of them. Tachel is arguably the best of the three, and has the least amount of screentime.

Look, there are some good moments here and there. The basic idea is good enough, the location is memorable (beside one of those tiny islands that looks as if it's all balanced on a pebble), and you get to see the sharks more than you do in some other movies, for better or worse. It's just a shame that the end result couldn't rise above the level of average.


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