Avalanche Sharks Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
DVD released by MarVista Digital Entertainment
Directed by Scott Wheeler
Written by Keith Shaw
2014, 82 minutes, Rated R
Released on VOD on June 30th, 2015
Alexander Mendeluk as Wade
Eric Scott Woods as Dale
Kelle Cantwell as Madison
Richard Gleason as Sheriff Adam
One hour and five minutes into Avalanche Sharks, the main character Wade (Alexander Mendeluk) elbows his girlfriend Madison (Kelle Cantwell) in the face on purpose. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this movie, but to be impartial, there are plenty of other ways this movie is terrible.
A group of young people whose personalities were fished out of “Writing a Screenplay for Dummies” are arranged on Mammoth Mountain for Spring Break; a week of bikinis on skis but somehow no hypothermia. For some reason, a surveyor blows up part of the mountain and an avalanche destroys the sacred totems that keep the God of Vengeance, Skookum, at bay. Years ago Skookum took revenge upon gold rush miners that massacred the native people of the land by burying their camps in snow. Now Skookum comes forward to seek revenge upon wealthy white people in the form of...snow sharks. None of that matters because Wade punched his girlfriend Madison in the face.
The dialogue is so weak the actors have trouble speaking without cringing. When sugar-daddy seeking Becca doesn’t like a story uptight nerd Randy is telling, she threatens to shoot him in the face. There’s a tangible temperature drop where you can feel the actors thinking, “Why did anyone think that line would be okay?” Everyone’s backstory is spelled out not through action but with clumsy monologues letting us know their age and occupation. The character descriptions were cut and paste into dialogue. But none of that matters because Wade punched Madison in the face.
The plot is a mess. The sheriff doesn’t want to act, then he does, then he’s fired, but sits in his hut despite being given twelve hours to vacate the town. The women treat men like sex-starved morons; one girl demands two friends risk their lives in a snowmobiling race so she can sleep with the winner. The crazy mountain dweller who tries to save everyone including his sled dogs gets eaten by a shark, then has his head blown off in a "mercy killing". Do these writers actually like anyone they’ve created in this world? I suppose not, since Wade punched Madison in the face.
This movie was clearly meant to be a joke; a silly horror comedy about sharks in the vein of Piranha. But the writing is so incredibly lazy that it can’t even bother to be funny. The imagination needed come up with something as absurd as demon-fueled snow sharks is absent everywhere else, replaced by breasts and guns. The editing leaves in scraps of shaky establishing shots where they’re not needed; scenes fade to black to allow minimal amounts of time to pass. I don’t know why anyone has claimed the title “director” since there was no direction. Except for when Alexander Mendeluki as Wade was directed to elbow Kelle Cantwell as Madison in the face, anyway.
Avalanche Sharks is the most disappointing this to come across my screen in a long time. For many reasons, but mostly because not a single person on the entire production team or MarVista Entertainment read the script, saw the dailies, saw the final cut, went to the premiere, and thought, “Maybe it’s not okay that Wade punched Madison in the face?”