Genius Products // 2006 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 1st, 2008
Fear runs deep.
When giant, man-eating squids attack, you lose.
When research scientist Dan Leland (James Van Der Beek, Varsity Blues) is dispatched to a small fishing village to investigate a shortfall in the fish population, he isn't planning to go toe-to-toe with a gigantic killer cephalopod that eats human flesh and uses its monster tentacles to cornhole unsuspecting tourists.
But that's what's happening underneath the waters, despite the locals' resistance to believing the truth. Only one person supports Leland's wacky hypothesis about a murderous squid, a lovely maritime cop (Alexandra Castillo) who harbors her own awkward squid-related secret.
Before they can take the fight to the sea creature, the dynamic duo will have to overcome the hostility of the villagers, the ambivalence of Leland's organization and the bubbling racial tension between the Native Americans and the rednecks that manifests itself as shouting matches about who should return to Europe and how the white man f -- -ed over nature.
So as we're winding toward the end of Eye of the Beast, yet another under-performing, quickly forgettable creature feature, and the good guys are congregating on the pier, attempting to hatch a plan of attack to take out the squid and Van Der Beek's character is warning the yokels not to go out by themselves because the squid is too big and has sharp teeth on its suckers and especially don't go out at night because that's when the thing is at its most lethal so our protagonists convince them to take them on board and they head out to kill it -- and it's still night. There was only one reason for this, and one reason only: if the finale takes place at night you don't have to expend budget to show your monster.
That's the first sign that you're dealing with a jalopy of a monster movie and, alas, Eye of the Beast is chock full of so much more. For instance:
* Overly Obstinate Authorities That Refuse to Believe a Giant Squid is
Seriously, in the universes where these films take place are there no monster movies? Don't these characters have access to basic cable? Have they ever watched the SciFi Channel? Come on, at least give your highly-trained researcher the benefit of the doubt when he's warning you of a killer squid. And is it even that hard to believe? It's not like the guy is claiming the village is being overrun by little green monsters that multiply with water.
* Moronic Social Commentary.
I don't think the filmmakers are trying to generate Teachable Moments or anything, but the clash between the white guys and Native American guys over which ethnicity is responsible for over-fishing the waters is supremely lame.
* The Happy-to-Oblige Creature
This squid has merely been a legend for decades and the only person to have sworn to see it was nearly laughed off the island but it conveniently complies on the one night a few clowns decide to mount up and take it on, seemingly only because that's what the genre dictates.
Moreover, the film takes its sweet time building toward the creature-riffic goodness. Most of the runtime is consumed with meetings and consternation but when it's time to smoke the squid, of course it's dark out and we can only see vaguely visible CGI tentacles and one bank-breaking, full shot of at the end and roll credits. Lastly, there's one shot of gore and it's good one with a separated arm and arterial spray, all the other squid kills occur off-screen.
DVDs don't get much more bare-bones than this: a washed-out, gray-toned 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and a low-key 5.1 surround mix and no extras.
Nothing to see here. Literally. You can barely see that stupid squid.
Deep-fry this bad boy and serve it with the Admiral's Platter.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated