Alamo Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow Presents Jaws on the Water
Scary summer fun at its finest
By Danielle White,
7:20AM, Wed. Jun. 27, 2018
The Alamo Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow presentation of Jaws on the Water is about as immersive an experience you can get with this classic film without being shipped up to Martha’s Vineyard and thrown onto a rickety boat with a drunken war veteran at the helm.
After a few years of being hosted at different venues around town, they’ve parked it at Volente Beach Resort in Leander – about 15 miles from Central Austin. A ticket to the screening gets you access to the water park wedged between a bar and the beach – there’s a few slides and a volleyball court. Next door is a place that offers boat rentals.
Everything you need is available on a stretch of sand overlooking the water, including your inner tube and a glow-stick necklace. There’s a taco truck on one side and a table set up with barbecue on the other; front and center is a little beach bar stocked with beer, cider, and rum punch. On the far end, there’s a re-creation of the Amity Island sign (post-“sick vandalism”) and a rather garish-looking bloody-mouthed shark (the sort of thing you’d see at a mini-golf course); both great for photo ops. There’s also an area where you can rent a locker to store your stuff ($10-25 extra).
You can lounge on a beach chair or your inner tube and stuff your face while the sun sets over Lake Travis. You may pine for the salty waves of the ocean, but there really is no beating that view. There’s a floating dock marking off the viewing area, and lots of people staked out their territory early on. The ground leading from the beach to the water is pretty rocky; jellies or sneakers are better footwear choices than flip-flops. I reluctantly left my shoes, purse, and towel on the ground by the screen assuming no one would be brazen enough to take them.
As the sun edges out of sight, a countdown to showtime appears onscreen. Two shark-costumed hosts appear for an Alamo-style contest where audience members play a game of “musical shark” for a shot at some movie passes. It gets a little windy, and if you don’t anchor yourself to the dock or a group, you’re likely to spin off into open water. Meanwhile, divers with little black shark fins affixed to their oxygen tanks circle the audience in search of dangling toesies. If you’ve ever wanted to hear a bro screech like some kind of beach bird, here’s your chance. (It’s my impression that they like to scare the floaters that give the more enthusiastic reactions.) The “shark bites” are not aggressive, more playful – after all they’re not trying to scare you to death (although you did sign that waiver …).
Before the film begins, audience members are instructed to hold up their glow stick (à la order card) if they need beverage service, and this was the only part of the experience that seemed to cause confusion. It was implied that floaters would need to get to the dock to get their drinks, but many trapped in the middle of the flotilla held up their wands while waiting for a scurrying server to appear: One Alamo employee had to gently remind a patron, “I can’t swim out to you.”
The wind caused the inflatable screen to flutter occasionally, giving a funhouse-mirror affect to the whole deal. (But you didn’t really come for the film, did you?) The night was punctuated by brief yelps caused by the divers as well as disembarking party-boat revelers, some of whom rudely shined their headlights at the screen. A perfectly timed fireworks display set off during a key scene, like a prelude to the explosion-happy Stunt Ranch Cinema (hosting Independence Day on July 4). When it was over, I carefully emerged from the murky water and made my way to the beach bar to close my tab. As I was standing there, a woman rushed up to the bartender asking about a lost & found – she had left her stuff somewhere on the beach and now it was missing: wallet, keys, phone all gone. My stomach dropped thinking that could have easily been me. Suddenly, the lockers I had looked askance at earlier didn’t seem so pricy now.
Jaws on the Water runs for five more weekends: June 29 & 30; July 13 & 14, 20 & 21, and 27 & 28; and Aug. 3 & 4. Purchase tickets at www.rollingroadshow.com or enter our contest for a chance to win a pair.