While not a household name, The Polonia Brothers, twins Mark and John, have been creating independent films for several decades. Their latest is Shark Encounters of the Third Kind, but they have also helmed such titles as Sharkenstein (their best to date), Peter Rottentail (cheesy fun), and Bigfoot Vs. Zombies (unfortunately dull). So, how does the mishmash of an alien invasion and shark attack film turn out?
After her father’s passing, Kay (Jennie Russo) inherited her childhood home. She returns to the small town with plans to continue the therapy groups her father ran. He dealt with alleged alien abductees, as the area has a high number of reported cases of extraterrestrial activity.
At the same time, a UFO crash lands into the ocean just off the town’s shores. Using mind control, the aliens use sharks to attack anyone splashing in the water. Kay teams up with Harbor Patrol Officer Alan (Titus Himmelberger), and treasure-seeker Sloan (Jeff Kirkendall) to save the world from both aliens and the frenzied sharks they control.
Running a mere 75-minutes long, Shark Encounters Of The Third Kind still feels too long. The first act is just character introductions and exposition. The reason people boat out to the specific spot near the UFO crash site (rumors of gold) is given far too much time as it does not factor into the movie. Yes, it does help explain why extraterrestrials have abducted almost everyone in town, but one is not needed. These people could just as easily be fishing for all it adds.
“ Using mind control, the aliens use sharks to attack anyone splashing in the water.”
This does mean it takes a while for the movie to pick up steam and become engaging. But once it does, Shark Encounters of the Third Kind delivers all the goofy enjoyment fans of the Polonias have come to expect. The look of the aliens, who are one of the first things shown, sets expectations perfectly. With large saucer eyes, their grayish-white masks are the perfect mix of cheap but charming, as are Brett Piper’s (who is a fantastic director in his own right) special effects.
Mixing CGI and practical effects, the film revels in its meager means, delivering an end product that knows exactly what it is. The sharks never truly appear to be in the water itself but move in a way that suggests they are. If you don’t mind effects looking realistic, then this delivers some very exciting setpieces. Once the action truly begins, the movie is relentlessly paced. A shark attack involving a diver looking for treasure and alien electricity (is that the right word?) is especially fun.
Titus Himmelberger has been working with the Polonia Brothers for the last four years or so. As such, he’s an old pro at delivering the required amount of sincerity versus being in on the joke. That serves him well here, as even when the pacing is off, he still gets the audience to invest in his character. Jennie Russo has been acting steadily for the past fifteen years and also understands the exact kind of movie this is. While her interactions with her mom don’t totally work, she is believably concerned for the abductees and convincingly fights the sharks and aliens.
Look, everything one needs to know if they’ll enjoy Shark Encounters of the Third Kind is right there in the title. Goofy mash-up of genres, clearly on a budget. Despite some early pacing problems, the cast and crew know what kind of film they are making and deliver. So, if this sounds like your cup of tea, drink up.
"…goofy mash-up of genres, clearly on a budget."