Coming Soon: Bull Shark (2022) - Reviewed

The killer shark genre is overstuffed with forgettable schlock, however, dappled throughout the endless waves of SYFY originals there are a handful of unique, artistic efforts that expand the capabilities of these films.  Brett Bentman's latest offering, Bull Shark is not only a hilarious takedown of political corruption, but also a surprisingly refreshing rumination on family and fatherhood. Featuring a complex central performance, pristine visuals, and laugh out loud antics, this is a film in which it is instantly apparent that not only are cast and crew having fun with the material, but it is also clear they share a passion for the medium. 

A shark begins feeding upon unsuspecting swimmers in a small Texas community.  In an effort to obfuscate the terror and save face, the powers that be charge an alcoholic game warden with dispatching the beast or taking the fall when the media inevitably finds out.  One of the most interesting aspects of this film is Bentman's script.  While this is undoubtedly his most lighthearted picture, it also nears 90 Feet From Home in terms of emotional impact.  Comparing Bull Shark to his Texas crime films, it initially comes off as a parody, and yet, all of Bentman's elements are on display.  The central story is more concerned with a father trying to repair the damage he's done to his family, with the shark being a totemic representation of the demons he struggles with, both in and outside of the bottle.  This is given form by Thom Hallum's multilayered performance as Spencer.  Hallum showcases the perfect blend of machismo and vulnerability, highlighted by his smile-inducing banter with loyal receptionist Reema, played by Colleen Miller. 

Billy Blair also stars as rogue fisherman Nolan, bringing his usual comedic antics to bear. Richard Ray supports as the town's slippery mayor and his lampoon of Jaws' Murray Hamilton is a charming homage. Tiffany McDonald rounds out the cast in a scene stealing performance as the town's coroner who also deeply enjoys food, treating the audience to several comedic scenes involving life, death, and pork rinds.  Easily the best part of Bull Shark, McDonald's deadpan delivery is the perfect accoutrement to the quirky world that Bentman has constructed.  

Long time editor Jeff Hamm does double duty, serving also as cinematographer.  There is a plethora of memorable shots including a haunting bird's eye view of a not long for this world swimmer being stalked by the beast that is simultaneously awe inducing and skin crawling.  Beautiful shots of the Texas coastline are interspersed between Spartan interiors and sun splashed locales and the result is an elegiac experience that will not soon be forgotten. One of the most impressive takeaways is how Bentman and his crew continue to not only evolve their craft on small budgets, but also continue to proudly display their love for all things cinema and Bull Shark is a crowning achievement.  

Coming soon to digital streaming, Bull Shark is a slimmed down, bloody good time.  Firing on all cylinders, the B22 crew delivers another independent shot that aims for both the heart and the funny bone and hits with perfect comedic aplomb. If you enjoy killer shark movies, this will not disappoint, but if you enjoy movies with something to say, even something as simple as how no one is beyond redemption, then this will delight. 

--Kyle Jonathan