Dam Sharks is a 2016 made-for-TV movie originally airing on SyFy. Directors James Kondelik (who, according to IMDB, directs mainly low-budget zombie films) and brother Jon (who is known for producing, directing and acting in the same or even lower budget films) are at the helm directing this script of their own doing. The film stars Jason London as Tanner Brooks, Matt Mercer as Pullman and Neka Zang as Stella.
A local sheriff, Kate (Jessica Blackmore), and her partner Mark (Andy Earl) are sent to investigate why the water levels are dropping in the local river. While they are there, Mark puts on scuba equipment to check out a local dam, only to find it is being built with body parts. Just as Mark is about to tell Kate of his discovery, he is chomped in half and added to the structure. It seems there are sharks in the river. “I don’t think no beaver did that!”
Meanwhile, a local tech company, Horizon Tech, has decided to host a retreat at a nearby park. There we meet the CEO Tanner (Jason London) as well as many of his employees including his publicist Joline (Kabby Borders). Throughout the film, we get hints the pair are hiding something.
Meanwhile, Kate goes to a local woodsmen Carl (Robert Craighead), and tells him about the sharks. Doing his best Jack Nicholson impression, he agrees to help her but they are going to need a lot of weapons. If they can blow up the dam, they can open a path to the ocean and flush the sharks back out.
Three members of the tech firm have been killed so far and Stella (Neka Zang) and Pullman (Matt Mercer) discuss the main reason all of the employees are at the retreat – so they wouldn’t be in the office while massive layoffs are going on. Pullman admits the reason he isn’t being let go is that he indulges the CEO’s bad ideas.
As more and more employees go missing, it is up to Kate and Carl to save the day with the stereotypical oxygen tank/flame trick. Unfortunately, they can’t save the movie.
Besides Jaws, it is hard to find a “good” shark movie, so it should be no surprise that this effort, especially being a TV movie, falls short of being anything but laughable. Like my previous review of Sharks of the Corn, the film takes itself too seriously and tries to pass itself off as a true horror film instead of a light-hearted satire. It tries, sort of, with using the word “Damn” several times in the opening minutes as well as a quip or two about “shark tornados” and also beavers.
The special effects in the film, while better than Sharks of the Corn, are laughable, with the underwater sequences of the dam itself the only highlight – and that was in the first few minutes. The rest of the “shark attack” sequences consist of badly matted poorly done CGI sharks jumping in and out of the water to claim their victims. The lead special effects artist, Steve Clarke, has quite the resume of working on shark movies, one would think he would get better after each one. The scenes of the shark jumping or “breaching” out of the water are especially awful.
If you are confused about sharks living in freshwater, that is explained about halfway through with elaboration. The sharks are “bull sharks” which according to Wikipedia, “can thrive in both salt and fresh water and can travel far up rivers.” Ta-da!
If you are looking for a film to laugh at, or complete your Shark Week viewing, then Dam Sharks is certainly a viable option. You can find it for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime and YouTube.