Josh (Xavier Samuel) has been suffering for the last twelve months, and it all began when he was working as a lifeguard at a nearby beach. He had been out the night before the fateful day, and was feeling the worse for wear, but his friend Rory (Richard Brancatisano) was more enthusiastic and went diving into the sea with his surfboard. He wasn't the only swimmer to venture that far out, but when the other man started treading water, he felt something grab his leg: a shark, and it finished him off, leading the alarm to be raised onshore. But in spite of Josh's best efforts, he couldn't save Rory...
In the same way that Snakes on a Plane was a simple concept taken to ridiculous lengths in order to make itself as commercial as possible, Bait could be regarded as Sharks in a Supermarket, which might have been a better title, if less snappy. Ever since Jaws filmmakers have endeavoured to recapture some of the magic of that suspense piece, quite often with sharks and sometimes with the word "jaws" in the name, and such was its influence that even that far into the twenty-first century the notion of the teeth of the sea was powerful enough to sell the concept of yet another revenge of nature horror to the audience.
That theme of the unsteadiness of human civilisation in the face of overwhelming Mother Nature is one that has never gone out of fashion stretching back to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds in the movies, and the tsunami of 2004 was apparently the impetus behind getting this plot going. Once Josh has spent a year moping over the loss of his pal, breaking up with his girlfriend Tina (Sharni Vinson) in the process, he is now working in a supermarket which will be our main location for the rest of the film. After a bunch of character-establishing business introducing us to possible shark food, there's a crisis in the shop.
Actually there are two, one when a robbery is instigated by a masked gunman who shoots one person, and then even more serious when there's an ominous rumble and suddenly a huge tidal wave breaks over the town and strands a collection of survivors inside the building. About ten of them are left alive in the flooded main part of the emporium, including three in the car park (and a little dog, too), but oh dear, there's a not-so-friendly something or other in the water. More than one, in fact, as one shark patrols the shelves the survivors are standing on top of, and another swims among the cars in the car park below. The question is now, how do they get out?
Screenwriters Russell Mulcahy (director of another type of rampaging Aussie animal in Razorback a few decades before) and John Kim, seemingly recognising that clichés are endemic in such material, left their plot as strictly nuts and bolts, with the character development sticking out like a sore thumb and patently not what anybody was truly interested in. Nevertheless, the romantic partner troubles, the issues with the boss or the father, all that stuff, didn't get in the way of a horror it might have been easy to sneer at since it came across as yet another dumb shocker, but as it turned out was perfectly decent. The mere novelty of setting the shark attack narrative in a supermarket took it a surprisingly long way, and if it got silly in places that was no surprise, and added to the amusement. Better this than some boring, cheapo giant shark flick where you saw the monster for about thirty seconds all told, here you were rewarded with a sizeable amount of shark for your entertainment. Just a pity about the Americanised accents on the Australian cast. Music by Joe Ng and Alex Oh.