Hollywood films typically fall into familiar genres, with filmmakers taking stories and inserting them into formulas that audiences expect. However, these genres aren’t always basic classifications like “the western movie” or “the gangster film.” Sometimes the genre has more to do with the type of experience filmgoers have when they go to see it.
For example, “the schlocky scary picture” is definitely a classic. Since the early days of major motion pictures, filmmakers have offered audiences fun, almost tongue-in-cheek thrill rides that seek to do one thing: make sure the audience has a good time. These movies aren’t striving to be the next Citizen Kane. Instead, they focus on making sure viewers get to laugh, scream, and walk out of the theater feeling like they have never had so much fun at the movies.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to find these kinds of movies. Too often, movies that might fit into this category end up taking themselves too seriously. As a result, they lose some of the entertainment impact they might have had.
This is why a movie like Shark Night 3D (2011) is such a treat. The title itself tells viewers exactly what they should expect from the movie. People who go to see this type of film want to revisit the fun of old-school, drive-in movie theaters and brisk, exciting storytelling. Shark Night 3D belongs squarely in this category for the following reasons:
The Simple Premise
Again, the title of this film tells viewers what they should expect from it: There are sharks. Most of the action occurs at night. It’s reasonable for audiences to assume that those sharks will attack people at some point.
This is the kind of premise these movies rely on. Audiences who go to see these flicks aren’t looking for a very complicated story. They’re looking for a bare-bones story that revels in the kind of on-screen excess that Hollywood is so good at delivering.
Like the popular grindhouse and Roger Corman films of the past, Shark Night 3D wants to let viewers know what they’re getting into right away. The film holds true to this tradition.
The Use of Technology
Audiences who decide to watch this film based on its title also know they can probably expect it to leverage 3D technology. Although 3D has made a comeback in major motion pictures after the release of big-budget epics like Avatar, at its core, 3D has always been more at home in these types of movies. For years, filmmakers have released low-budget (but extremely entertaining) pictures that use features like 3D to lure in more audiences.
Unlike the bigger 3D movies of today, which use the technology but don’t heavily advertise it, Shark Night 3D makes it extremely clear that audience members who buy a ticket to this film are going to don a pair of glasses and see objects pop out of the screen at them. This is a tactic common among earlier films of this type.
Highlighting “3D” in the film’s name is a smart, fun way to generate excitement for a movie. The very title of the film itself hypes up the picture, thus making audiences even more eager to go have a fun time at the theater.
The Communal Experience
Although 3D TVs have been available for some time, in recent years, it’s become clear that audiences aren’t exactly interested in purchasing them. They are, however, interested in going to 3D movies at the theater. This is the kind of environment these films are best suited to. The size of the screen makes the images pop out in a more dynamic, impressive way than they could on a TV screen.
Moreover, “old-school, thrilling fun” types of films are best enjoyed with as many people as possible. The bigger the audience, the bigger the laughs and the louder the screams. The enthusiasm of other filmgoers is contagious. While these movies are certainly fun and entertaining on their own, they become even more fun and entertaining when seen with a lot of friends in a crowded theater, where everyone is having a good time together.
This kind of experience isn’t as common as it used to be due to the advent of streaming platforms, which have made it easier than ever for individuals to watch a movie from the comfort of their home. However, for all their gains in terms of comfort and convenience, people are losing the joy of sharing a communal experience.
Movies like Shark Night 3D are made for the big screen. These films serve to remind us that, despite all of our new technology, some of the most fun we can have involves simply heading to the theater on a Friday night and participating in an entertaining experience with a large group of people.