College friends Nat (Holly Earl), Nat's boyfriend Tom (Jack Trueman), her best friend Milly (Catherine Hannay), and remaining friends Tyler (Malachi Pullar-Latchman) and Greg (Thomas Flynn) are vacationing in Mexico during spring break. The morning of their final day, the group steal two jet skis for a joy ride. When the group play a game of chicken injuring Greg and sinking one jet ski while damaging the other, they find themselves stranded in open water with the tide pulling them further away from shore. Things only get worse as a great white shark begins picking off the group one by one.
Shark Bait comes to us from British director James Nunn, well known for his low budget action films and thrillers like Tower Block, Marine 5&6, and most recently One Shot, and writer Nick Saltrese who got his start on British TV writer for soap operas such as Eastenders before transitioning to screenwriting with co-writing credit on the biography film A Prayer Before Dawn. Shopped to international distributors during the American Film Market in 2020, Shark Bait (then known as Jetski) was one of the productions filmed during the pandemic in Malta (like Jurassic World: Dominion) thanks Malta's more relaxed Covid protocols. The movie is pretty standard for the type of low budget shark movie you've seen in the likes of Open Water, 47 Meters Down, or even previous years Great White where you strand your cast somewhere in the ocean while periodically having the shark come get them. It's well made enough, but there's very little to this movie and it does little to distinguish itself from dozens of other shark movies.
The movie begins with our main characters partying and shouting on the beach with very little character development and it's almost setup like a slasher movie. With Nat being the "good girl", Milly being the "partier", Tom being the "jock d-bag" and Tyler and Greg just being "there"(they don't get anything to distinguish themselves) these are basically kill fodder you'd expect in a slasher film down to the fact the movie even has its own equivalent of the crazy old man from Friday the 13th with Manuel Cauchi's legless beggar character who tells them of how a shark ate his legs. Once we're out on the water with these characters there's really not much that happens and because the characters are so thin personality wise the writers come off with hackneyed cheating revelations to wring some semblance of something happening in the movie. The shark effects look fine in some instances, but when the movie has to do the more elaborate attack sequences you've seen in the trailer the low budget really starts to show with compositing during a chase scene in the climax looking particularly bad or the shark sometimes feeling like it's crudely pasted into a shot. Nobody in the movie is really all that engaging because the characters are so lacking in personality that you don't care when one of them dies and because you're so uninterested it's long stretches of not much happening as we wait for the next kill sequence with about 20 minute waits between the Shark appearing as the shark disappears for no real reason for long stretches (but we know the reason, it's to pad this movie to feature length). Also I know this is a predominantly British cast and crew, but as the group are established as being from Kansas, no American refers to the flashlight function on their phone as "torch". If you're going to make your cast subdue their natural accents, at least commit to it and proofread your terminology.
Shark Bait is yet another bare basics shark movie that's just "there", It's not smart or engaging enough to stand out like The Shallows, nor is it campy or cheesy enough like The Meg or Bait 3D to be cheesy fun. It's a movie that takes up time, ends, and then you forget about it. Maybe if you're a die hard shark movie fan you'll find something to appreciate here, but for anyone else just stick to what you know.