I’m not a fan of Shark films. There’s nothing particularly wrong with them — they’re just not for me. I find them quite boring and predictable, the sort of qualities I much prefer to be in my beloved slasher flicks. I watched The Requin (which means “shark” in French) purely because of Alicia Silverstone, but she delivered what must be one of the worst acting performances I’ve ever seen. Silverstone will never get another role as iconic and as fitting as Cher Horowitz in Clueless, but she’s a perfectly decent actor, you know, usually.
The Requin follows married couple Jaelyn (Silverstone) and Kyle (James Tupper) who are on vacation at a beach tourist resort in Vietnam. They’re staying in an overwater bungalow — the kind you can build in The Sims 4 Island Living (sorry, I have no other frame of reference). We meet Jaelyn during a nightmare that reveals she lost her baby during a traumatic home birth. The film focuses a lot on Jaelyn trying to manage her PTSD and how this affects her marriage. She’s withdrawn and spends a lot of time on social media, and so the trip is to try and reconnect them while bringing some joy back into their lives. Things kick off when a tropical storm causes a small tsunami which floods their bungalow and sends it drifting away from the mainland and into the depths of the sea.
Being stranded at sea with everywhere you look being vast amounts of ocean and sky is absolutely terrifying. That, with the added family drama, is already enough alone — but Jaelyn and Kyle also have to contend with the threats that call the ocean home, the threats that Kyle is constantly drawing closer to them thanks to his injured, bloody leg. The Requin actually isn’t half bad at the beginning, but for many, the only reason to keep watching is for the promise of the shark, which doesn’t make an appearance until 60 minutes into the film.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the acting and the dialogue that let the film down. The green screen effects of the ocean and CGI sharks look atrociously and laughably fake. Plus the sharks are tiny! Jaelyn actually stabs one under the water with a piece of the bungalow’s floorboard and we see its blood cloud the water. There’s even a scene where you think Jaelyn is for sure getting her legs torn off, but afterwards it seems like the shark might’ve been sweetly nibbling on her limbs instead — perhaps the baby shark hasn’t started teething just yet. There’s still plenty of bloody action to be had though!
The Requin’s poster looks far better than what the film actually is, especially regarding the shark content. There’s something in here about trauma which is uncovered as the film goes on, so it’s a shame it wasn’t explored well and against a more effective backdrop. Director Le-Van Kiet said he “never intended it to be about the predator itself but rather a human drama of survival.” Silverstone echoes this remark in an interview with Looper: “[Jaelyn’s] marriage is failing apart, and they’re fighting for their marriage, and now they have to fight for their lives. I think that was really compelling to me.” It would’ve been compelling if the actors, which are usually reliable, had turned in better performances and the crew had access to seemingly better CGI. It’s an interesting angle — it just didn’t land.
The Requin is available on VOD in the US.