Monkey See
3:49 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Pets Or Meat? Let's Play Guess-The-Victim With 'Shark Night 3D'

Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 2:36 pm

About two years ago, I introduced all of you to a game. I quote from that entry:

"Any time a scary movie apparently involves a decent-sized cast of people placed in a closed environment, it's a good time to play a game I like to call Pets Or Meat.

This comes from Roger & Me, in which Michael Moore meets a woman who sells what her sign calls 'Rabbits Or Bunnies - Pets Or Meat.' In your average scary movie with a sizable cast, there are some characters you can look at and immediately know: That guy is going to die. They are the Meat.

Others are the ones you're meant to identify with, and they have a reasonable chance of surviving. They are the Pets. These are tried-and-true tropes, and it takes a bold filmmaker to work against them successfully: Part of what makes Psycho a classic shocker is that it kills an apparent Pet, rather than just all the Meat. Got it?"

The latest film to tempt us all to play Pets Or Meat is Shark Night 3D, which opens this week as the latest film to argue that fun makes sharks angry, and shapely fannies in the water make them even angrier.

In the trailer, a group of students at Large Cement Building University-Anytown (LCBUA) decides to go away for the weekend to Lake Crosby, to the home of the blonde and comely Sara. Based on what I can determine from a combination of the trailer and some help from IMDB, the group includes dancing belly-flasher Beth (Katharine McPhee, who lost to Taylor Hicks in the finals of American Idol, if you can believe that); the dweeby but possibly lovable (?) Nick (Dustin Milligan); the perky Maya (Alyssa Diaz); the dweeby but almost certainly lovable Gordon (Joel David Moore — who's on Bones!); the hunky Dennis (Chris Carmack, whom I'm sure you remember from the TV movie Deadly Honeymoon); someone named Blake (Chris Zylka); the striped-tank-topped Malik (the very attractive Sinqua Walls); and ... that's it, maybe?

Everything begins well enough as they say things like "Let's rock it out!" to each other, and they do a little swimming, and Malik says to Nick, "You want to hit that?", and the girls take their tops off! What could possibly go wrong in a movie about a bunch of college students where the girls take their tops off and the guys want to hit that?

Menace, that's what. Utter, total menace.

Of course, it looks like Malik is the first to go, because ... really? You have to kill Malik first? You have to? Sigh.

So it appears that Malik is Meat. I'm going to predict that Beth the Belly-Flasher is also Meat, partly because I want a shark to eat Katherine McPhee (in a movie), and partly because she doesn't seem to play much of a role in much of the rest of the trailer. It also seems that perky Maya is Meat, and I can definitely believe that, because the perky girl who isn't the main girl is often Meat.

(My favorite part, by the way, is the huge explosion. Because being menaced by artificially introduced flesh-hungry sharks isn't enough. EXPLOSIONS, PEOPLE! Raise the stakes.)

I'm pretty sure Dennis is Meat, because I think I see a shot of his eye as he's being eaten. It's really just a guess, though (and I'll caution you, if that The Perfect Getaway post weren't truncated, you'd see that I got almost all of those guesses wrong). I also think Nerd Gordon is Meat, because again, you don't see much of him once things start to go wrong. My guess is that he's already being digested.

The Pets, I personally believe, are Nick and Sara, who seem at one point in the trailer to be participating in some kind of shark-bait-and-switch (eh? EH?) that just might be ... The Final Battle.

I encourage you to review the trailer and make your own predictions. Well ... I don't know if I encourage you to.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.