1 May 2011 | Chase_Witherspoon
You yell barracuda ...
A top secret government experiment leads to fatal barracuda attacks on the beaches of a small coastal town formerly renowned for its lobster. University biologist (Crawford) and sheriff (William Kerwin) uncover a plot involving a mentally unstable former war-medic (Evers) pioneering research into hyperglycemia and the effect on human behaviour. Compelling on a small scale, with some effective shocks and special effects, "Barracuda" unfortunately spends too little time underwater with its title stars; in point of fact, the last third of the film plays out on land, focused firmly on the conspiracy theories and intrigue.
Crawford is affable if unconvincing, and he rejoins regular co-stars the Kerwin brothers to write, produce and direct this b-grade thriller. Playboy bunny Leighton isn't the typical victim-based leading lady, and has her share of the spoils, while veteran tough guy Freed is largely wasted in an underdeveloped supporting role, with a retarded son whose character literally fades out without explanation after being prominent throughout the first half. Evers is the real asset to the acting ranks, portraying a distant, unbalanced patriot whose purpose and conviction is dangerously misguided, leading to his own personal tragedy.
Crawford – who also undertook the underwater directing – does a capable job with the toothy critters, and it's just a shame that they are absent for most of the second half. The scene in which the beach walker's dog retrieves the severed head of a scuba diver is memorable, and there's the occasional dismembered limb amid a watery cloud of claret to satisfy the appetite for gore. Audiences accustomed to upbeat conclusions will be disappointed, although Cliff Emmich does manage some light relief as the lazy, obese and apparently narcoleptic deputy sheriff throughout the film. A potentially interesting idea, just a great pity more time wasn't dedicated to the barracuda themselves, who despite their rather innocuous reputation, still look fierce enough to substitute for sharks in this familiar role.