Director – Jeffrey Lando, Screenplay – Jeffrey Lando & Phillip Roth, Producers – Jeffrey Beach, Jeffrey Lando & Phillip Roth, Photography – Alexander Krumov, Music – Claude Foisy, Special Effects Supervisor – Georgi Kraevs, Production Design – Dimitar Petkov. Production Company – Bulgarian Unified Film Organization, Ltd/Supercollider Productions/Reel World Management.
Alexis Peterman (Trish Larson), Matt Rippy (Rick Larson), Nigel Barber (Admiral Nathan Black), Vanessa Grasse (Melody Larson), Isaac Haig (Louie), Laura Dale (Veronica Viola), Steve Sires (Bill Glates), Vladimir Mihaylov (Erik), Derek Morse (Chief Xavier)
An alien probe comes down in the ocean where it is devoured by a shark, only to transform it into a mechanical hybrid. The Roboshark destroys a submarine and a video of it attacking a seaplane in Seattle Harbour is then posted on social media. Local weather reporter Trish Larson defies orders and takes her camera crew to go and obtain coverage of the Roboshark and is witness as it invaders a Starbucks. She fights with a colleague to get the story as her husband Rick, a supervisor at the public works department, is tracking the Roboshark’s progress through the sewers and keeps her abreast of its progress. The military come in, determined to destroy the Roboshark, unconcerned at the cost of bystanders’ lives. Trish is joined by their teenage daughter Melody who is able to communicate with the Roboshark and gets it to follow her on Twitter where she realises that it is not a threat.
The gonzo shark film has become its own mini-genre during the 2010s. Up until the late 2000s, the shark film existed as a steady output of Jaws (1975) rip-offs, which moved down the B end of the market from the 1990s onwards. With the likes of Shark in Venice (2008) and especially Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009), the shark film began a move towards the increasingly tongue-in-cheek, something that reached its zenith with the deliberate absurdity of the instant bad movie hit Sharknado (2013). There have been a great many shark films in a similar vein – see the likes of Dinoshark (2010), Sharktopus (2010), Sand Sharks (2011), Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast (2011), Swamp Shark (2011), 2-Headed Shark Attack (2012), Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012), Jurassic Shark (2012), Avalanche Sharks (2013), 90210 Shark Attack (2014), Raiders of the Lost Shark (2015), Shark Exorcist (2015), Zombie Shark (2015), Atomic Shark (2016), Ice Sharks (2016), Ozark Sharks (2016), Planet of the Sharks (2016), Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2016) and Trailer Park Shark (2017), among others.
Roboshark settles in as a Sharknado wannabe. This is a potentially highly entertaining fad for a low-budget filmmaker to jump aboard as it seems that no matter how cheesy and ridiculous the film is, it actually adds to the appeal. Indeed, filmmakers seem to be in a competition with each other as to how absurdly over-the-top they are capable of making each film and/or the mash-up the title brings together. From the outset, Roboshark looks set to try and top the cheesiness value. The film is made with the cut-price locations and effects common to BUFO’s other disaster and monster movies (see below). In particular, the CGI animation of the Roboshark is painfully obvious and cheap. If you can say nothing else about the Sharknado films, they at least operate in a far more accomplished stratosphere of effects than this does.
However, the sense that Roboshark is going to be a cheap imitator soon dissipates. The film keeps serving up a range of entertainingly preposterous scenes – the shark invading a Starbucks; cruising through a shopping mall; it turning up in an indoor high-school swimming pool. The film makes much of its Seattle location and there is even a Bill Gates lookalike (Steve Sires) who sets out with the intention of reverse engineering the shark only to get chomped. By far the most entertaining parts of the film are where the Roboshark goes on the internet, which is quite possibly either a dig at or an attempt to capitalise on the fact that the Sharknado phenomenon was spawned by Twitter. Daughter Vanessa Grasse makes the astonished realisation: “Roboshark is Following me on Twitter.” Matt Rippy makes a comment about Likes to which her response is “I don’t know if Roboshark has Facebook.” There is also the sidesplitting line where the Roboshark’s communiques are decrypted and turn out to be saying “Roboshark Phone Home.” By the end, the film even gets itself together and delivers some reasonably accomplished effects as the military decide to crash the Space Needle down to kill Roboshark.
Director Jeffrey Lando, often billed as Jeffrey Scott Lando, has made a host of other low-budget horror and science-fiction films, including Savage Island (2004), Insecticidal (2005), Alien Incursion (2006), Decoys 2: Alien Seduction (2007), Goblin (2010), House of Bones (2010), Thirst (2010), Super Tanker (2011), Boogeyman (2012), Haunted High (2012), Jet Stream (2013), Supercollider (2013), Suspension (2015) and Bad Stepmother (2017).
Roboshark was made by the Bulgarian Unified Film Organization (previously just United Film Organization), the production company of sometimes director Phillip Roth, which usually shoots low-budget genre films in Bulgaria. Their other films include Darkdrive (1996), Total Reality (1997), Interceptors (1999), Storm (1999), Deep Core (2000), Epoch (2000), Falcon Down (2000), Mindstorm (2000), Python (2000), Lost Voyage (2001), Shark Hunter (2001), Antibody (2002), Dark Descent (2002), Hyper Sonic (2002), Interceptor Force 2 (2002), Pythons (2002), Dark Waters (2003), Deep Shock (2003), Dragonfighter (2003), Maximum Velocity (2003), Warnings/Silent Warnings (2003), Boa vs Python (2004), Darklight (2004), Dragon Storm (2004), Phantom Force (2004), Post Impact (2004), Alien Siege (2005), Crimson Force (2005), Locusts: The 8th Plague (2005), Manticore (2005), Path of Destruction (2005), S.S. Doomtrooper (2006), Reign of the Gargoyles (2007), Copperhead (2008), Ghost Voyage (2008), Doomsday (2009), Ghost Town (2009), The Grudge 3 (2009), Star Runners (2009), Arctic Predator (2010), Elimination (2010), Lake Placid 3 (2010), Triassic Attack (2010), Cold Fusion (2011), Miami Magma (2011), Morlocks (2011), Rage of the Yeti (2011), Super Eruption (2011), Super Tanker (2011), Black Forest (2012), Boogeyman (2012), Lake Placid: The Final Chapter (2012), True Bloodthirst (2012), Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (2012), Deadly Descent (2013), Invasion Roswell (2013), Jet Stream (2013), Robocroc (2013), Super Collider (2013), Crystal Skulls (2014), Firequake (2014), Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort (2014), Lake Placid vs Anaconda (2015) and Zombie Shark (2015).