Predator crossed with Jaws. There you go. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this film, and I’m willing to bet the mental image forming in your head will be roughly similar to what this movie is. But, I don’t get paid (current earnings: £0) to just write Twitter-length reviews, so if you’re interested in reading a bit about another totally decent SyFy movie, you’ll have to read on.
It’s a welcome return for Corin Nemec, who’s rapidly approaching ISCFC Hall Of Fame status. “Lake Placid vs Anaconda”, “House Of Bones”, “Sand Sharks” and “Mansquito” have all been in the upper level of the stuff we’ve reviewed, and that’s partly thanks to Nemec, who manages to wink at the audience while seemingly taking things totally seriously. Here, he’s a fishing boat captain who’s down on his luck (one of his crew dies in a storm right at the beginning of the movie, as he sees a mysterious creature leap out of the ocean, grab the poor crewman, and dive back in), with debts to the guy who sold him the boat, and a daughter he’s trying to encourage to go to college, leave this small town behind, etc. She’s more interested in one of his deckhands, though, and then there’s also another deckhand, and his girlfriend too, who represent the stereotypical group of “young people” in a movie of this sort.
Mercifully, we get to the action right away with this one, after a nicely done introduction. There’s Quint (that’s not his name, but he’s such an obvious analogue for the character from “Jaws” that it’s pointless calling him anything else), who’s retreated into a bottle after seeing one of the creatures himself; the hot local environmental scientist, who Nemec ogles once but that’s it – perhaps they had a romantic subplot which was left on the cutting room floor; and the Sheriff, who’s Nemec’s older brother. The young folks all head off to a nearby island cabin for some fun, but are sure to not tell anyone where they’re going, or take any emergency supplies, and one of the sea-creatures hitched a ride on the bottom of the boat, turning up in town and almost immediately having dozens of babies.
It’s all fairly standard stuff – of course, a group of baby monsters attacks the partying teens, while Momma goes after the people in town. And they drop like flies! The “Predator” part of the equation comes from the monster being able to turn itself almost invisible, much like our alien friend did in the 1987 classic, oh, and walk on land perfectly well. For a creature which has apparently never emerged from the watery depths, it adapts to its new situation remarkably well.
One thing that sets this apart from your average SyFy movie is location. It looks like they found a real run-down fishing village to film in, as the sets and buildings are way too authentic to have been dressed. There’s also an abandoned ferry which is the set for the last chunk of the movie, and congrats to whoever found that, because it’s brilliant visually and makes “Sea Beast” look like it had ten times the budget. It’s just unfortunate that the random abandoned ship nowhere near town is also the place where the monster has chosen to lay her eggs.
Which leads us to our “huh?” segment. Events unfold over what must only be a couple of days, but when you see the monster’s lair, there are hundreds and hundreds of eggs there. They make several references to how the ferry has been picked clean by previous salvage teams, but there’s a car with a tank full of petrol in there, and a radio, and tons of other stuff. I also don’t buy that anyone brought up in a seafront community didn’t have it hammered into them from a young age that if you go anywhere, take an emergency radio with you, or a dinghy, or something. Okay, I know well-prepared people tend to make for dull movies, but if that’s what you’re relying on to drive your plot, then you’re in trouble.
Sprinkle a little “no-one believes him, because people obviously lie about giant killer sea creatures all the damn time” and you’ve got yourself a SyFy Channel original. The cast are mostly fine, the effects are surprisingly decent (most of the time, the creatures look like they’re actually there in the shot, and there’s a fair bit of model work to go with the CGI). Okay, the ending is “haha all our friends are dead”, and therefore is horrible, and it’s best if you don’t think about it too hard, but should you see this on the SyFy Channel listings, you could do a lot worse.
Rating: Thumbs in the middle