Lionsgate // 2010 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // April 15th, 2011
Death Rises From Deep Below.
Mongolian Death Worm is that most frustrating type of film to review, being neither completely terrible nor particularly good. The film simply plays out in front of you, leaving very little impression. In fact, the most interesting thing I took from the film is that its director, Steven R. Monroe, followed this up with his remake of I Spit On Your Grave, a film almost certain to provoke a response from its audience.
Mongolian Death Worm opens at an experimental drilling plant in Mongolia, where workers have begun to go missing whilst others quit, citing their fears of the "worm myth" for their departure. Rather unfortunately, it appears the site is located above a nest of giant worms that have been awoken by the drilling. With the owners of the oil company unwilling to believe the stories of giant worms killing its staff, it falls upon a treasure hunter, Daniel (Sean Patrick Flanery, The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones), to tackle the worm menace, assisted by Alicia (Victoria Pratt, Mutant X), a doctor who has been sent to help with a viral outbreak in a nearby village.
Seemingly aware of the budgetary restraints the film would face, Monroe and his co-writers, Neil Elman and Kevin Leeson, spend little time directly focusing on the titular worms. For the most part, Mongolian Death Worm is more interested in Daniel's search for Genghis Khan's lost treasure, while flitting back and forth to the rising tensions at the drilling plant built above the worm nest. While this may have kept production costs down, it also serves to considerably slow the pacing of the film. Any action we get is sparse, and is stuck between scene after scene of dialogue focused on fault lines and enzymes, with none of it interesting in the slightest -- no matter how overblown the performances might get.
I doubt anyone coming into a film titled Mongolian Death Worm is going to have their appetite for giant worm action sated by half-assed gunfights with black market smugglers, which sadly is what we get for the most part. Let's call it as it really is: we want Tremors 5: Mongolian Death Worm Massacre, and we want it now! When the worms do crop up -- usually quite randomly -- things really don't get that much better. Forgetting the really poor CGI, the problem is just how dumb you need to be for these giant worms to be a serious threat. Though the worms run up a decent body count, this is solely down to their victims' stupidity. One after another, people just stand dumbstruck, waiting for the amazingly slow-moving worms to devour them. You wouldn't even need to break a sweat to outpace these invertebrates. Although the action ante is upped during the final act -- which sees a swarm of worms onscreen -- Mongolian Death Worm still refuses to excite. Even an inevitable battle with the "boss" worm falls flat, being far too fleeting and inconsequential. It's not like it even takes much to take one of these critters down, either. A couple of shots is all that is needed to send these slimy cryptids to the big worm farm in the sky, and as seemingly everyone in Mongolia carries a firearm, their threat level is really no more than that of a wasp sting.
Sean Patrick Flanery delivers an energetic performance as the hero, and does his best to inject a little humor into what is otherwise a rather mundane screenplay. The only other role of note is that of Alicia, played by Victoria Pratt. Pratt plays the female scientist role that is apparently a prerequisite for anyone looking to get Syfy to help fund their movie. Pretty much everyone else onscreen is quite literally worm food.
Zero extras are included with this release, which is somewhat understandable given the film's origins as a Syfy original. Picture quality is solid, with decent levels of detail. The soundtrack is, if still somewhat a little pedestrian, at least clear of any niggling faults.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated