Horror Review: Apex Predators

Columns, Film, Reviews

If you’re the type of person who likes the fun of getting a little seasonal with their horror fare, then you likely have specific subgenres you especially enjoy this time of year. Classic summer camp-themed staples are musts. (Think Sleepaway Camp or Friday the 13th.) So are shark attack films like Jaws.

Shark attack films, in particular, are a bit like pizza. Even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good and tend to satisfy that unique craving. But does this one follow suit? Apex Predators is brought to you by writer-director Dustin Ferguson and stars Dawna Lee Heising, Maria Olsen, Shawn C. Phillips, Mel Novak, Brinke Stevens, and more. You can catch it on DVD and via streaming platforms, thanks to Wild Eye Releasing.

The plotline of Apex Predators is about what you’d expect from your standard micro-budget shark attack film. Beach resort mogul Robert Clouse Williamson (Novak) is preparing to open his latest addition to the Los Angeles beach resort scene. However, he’s also got a big problem on his hands that threatens to put a damper on things. Various body parts have been mysteriously washing up on several local beaches – not exactly the type of thing to put people in the mood for sun and fun.

At first, the local police are sure a serial killer must be to blame. However, it eventually becomes clear that wild sharks are the true culprits. At that point, a troupe of shark-savvy marine biologists set out to get to the bottom of things and keep Williamson’s opening from going horrifically wrong. Can they stop the beautiful beaches of Los Angeles from becoming nothing more than killing sites for the area’s ravenously hungry shark population?

It’s probably worth noting right off the bat that Apex Predators wasn’t called that when it first hit the horror scene sometime in 2019. This is its third moniker, following Los Angeles Shark Attach and Jaws of Los Angeles. Generally speaking, that doesn’t bode well for any movie – repeated attempts to repackage it in the hopes that this time something will click. And, unfortunately, Apex Predators is no exception to this rule.

The problem here isn’t that this an extremely low-budget film, as it’s more than possible to make a truly killer movie with little to no money if you’re creative enough. It’s that this film doesn’t even try to show you what you came for if you’re watching a shark attack flick in the first place – the actual shark attacks.

Pretty much all of the carnage is merely implied and not in a terribly exciting way. You see potential victims vanish beneath the ocean’s surface for what seems like no reason, never to resurface. In some cases, the camera cuts away right at the pivotal moment, and the person has disappeared when it swings back again. People keep randomly heading to the beach to die in rather nondescript ways, and that’s what the bulk of the movie is.

Apex Predators attempts to fill in the blanks with underwater stock footage and some random beach footage, none of which quite fits in with the look and feel of the rest of the film. In fact, you see very little of the sharks or any of the bloodshed they’re allegedly so thirsty for. Even the little bit of nudity the film shows is pretty ho-hum. In a nutshell, Apex Predators isn’t just a lousy shark attack film, as even that would be something. It’s pretty simply dull, and nothing much happens in it, especially actual shark attacks. Although some of Ferguson’s other work does scratch that B-movie itch well enough for government work, this film does nothing of the sort. You’re better off re-watching Jaws… or just about any other shark attack film, no matter how cheesy.

Just a guy who watches way too many horror movies. It's unhealthy, really.