Santa Jaws

(Minimal linguistic content. But it’s certainly seasonal.)

I have an admitted fondness for cheesy shark movies (which is almost all shark movies). But I don’t think I’ve been sufficiently clear about my distaste for almost all Christmas movies; I have a low tolerance for sentimentality. I recently re-watched Love Actually as an exercise in MST3K-style snark, which entertained me, but still left me sad that so many accomplished and engaging actors should have become enmeshed in the thing. (Yes, I know, the movie is wildly popular.)

The seasonal-sentiment component of today’s Christmas movie, Santa Jaws (a 2018 release on the Syfy Channel), is relatively small, and its preposterous-premise component is extraordinarily high (better to read the plot summary first, to get your guffaws out of the way ahead of time), but then cheesy shark movies as a genre have preposterous premises and incredible plots, so I can tell you that within the constraints of the genre this flick is well-done, with nice performances from the cast.


The IMDb summary is hard to read with a straight face, and it barely scratches the surface of the film’s weirdness:

Santa Jaws (2018): Trying to survive the family Christmas, Cody makes a wish to be alone, which ends up backfiring when a shark manifests and kills his entire family. Director: Misty Talley. Writer: Jake Kiernan. Stars: Reid Miller, Courtney Lauren Cummings, Jim Klock.

From the Bloody Disgusting site, “[Review] We Watched ‘Santa Jaws’ and It Was Better Than Most Syfy Shark Movies” by Chris Coffel on 8/15/18:

I’ve watched a lot of Christmas horror movies in my day. I’ve watched a lot of shark movies too, so when I heard that a movie called Santa Jaws was premiering on SyFy, well, I was obligated to tune in. Now I love Christmas horror and shark films, and there are some great titles from both of those categories, however, there’s also a lot of bottom of the barrel schlock to be found. That’s all to say that when I sat down to watch this mashup of the two I tried to do so with zero expectations — which, if I’m being honest, is hard to do with a movie called Santa Jaws.

Cody, played by Reid Miller[,] who looks an awful lot like Edward Furlong circa 1991, is your typical teenage comic book fan. He and his best friend Steve (Hawn Tran) have created a new comic called Santa Jaws just in time for the holiday season. The film opens with the two sharing the new book with their local comic book guy, Clark (Scott Allen Perry), as they prepare for the comic book store’s big Christmas Eve party. In a move that we can all relate to, Cody is dreading having to spend any holiday time with his family and is using this comic party as his escape.

Unfortunately, the day before the big party Cody’s mom gets a call from the school principal. It seems as if Cody drew an offensive drawing portraying the principal in an unfavorable manner and shared it on social media. Cody gets grounded for a week and that means no Christmas Eve part at the comic book store. Rats.

Before going to bed that night Cody makes some new Santa Jaws sketches using a pen he received from his grandpa as a gift. While drawing he wishes he were alone for Christmas and well, that turns out to be a not-so-great idea. The pen, it’s magic, [the initial preposterous premise: a magic pen] and it brings Santa Jaws to life [complete with Santa cap on its dorsal fin]. And the living, breathing Santa Jaws only has one goal — to kill Cody’s family [more pen magic — plus, the creature is roused to attack by the trappings of Christmas, so it savages several of Cody’s friends as well as family members]. Cody teams with Steve, his older brother Josh (Arthur Marroquin) and the cute girl (Courtney Lauren Cummings) that just moved in next door to defeat Santa Jaws and save the family.

(#2) Santa Jaws swimming in for a kill

… Fun fact: Santa Jaws was directed by Misty Talley, the director behind Shark Island, Ozark Sharks and Mississippi River Sharks. [I confess to having seen all three.]

The teenaged characters are especially nicely drawn.

Santa Jaws was preceded on Syfy by Snowmageddon (a magic snowglobe envelopes a town in disasters) and followed by Christmas Icetastrophe (a comet brings frosty meteorological disaster — at Christmas!)

(Ok, a tiny bit of linguistic interest: the libfixes -mageddon and -tastrophe, both stalwart formatives on Syfy, where there’s always disaster on tap.)

3 Responses to “Santa Jaws”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    For me, there’s also some linguistic interest, or at least amusement value, in the phrase (from the IMDb entry) “when a shark manifests”.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Nice point. The verb manifest ‘appear, become apparent’ is normally used of a deity, ghost, or spirit (or an ailment, which isn’t relevant here); but it conveys more than appear, suggesting that a previously entirely disembodied entity (of the deity, ghost, or spirit class) has become at least visible, or even fully embodied, or that an entity of this class has transformed from one shape to another (as when Zeus manifests to his partners as, variously, a swan, a bull, an eagle, a shower of gold, a mortal man, a goddess, or a satyr).

  2. [BLOG] Seven Christmas links (#christmas) | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky–now on Twitter at @ArnoldZwicky—celebrates the 2018 Syfy film Santa […]

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