Genius Products // 2008 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // July 3rd, 2009
It's a feeding frenzy!
Poor fisherman Will. He and his crew just haven't been catching 'em lately. He's behind in his bills, and bad weather portends tougher days ahead. In addition, his nubile teenage daughter, Carly, is secretly sharing her increasingly less-wholesome charms with Danny, one of Will's sea men. Like this isn't bad enough, Will's crew is suddenly being eaten by a Sea Beast. What's a guy to do?
Well, Will (Corin Nemec, Parker Lewis Can't Lose) teams up with sexy and conveniently visiting marine biologist Arden (Camille Sullivan, The Butterfly Effect) and town drunk Ben (Brent Stait, Andromeda) -- who became a drunkard after encountering this self-same sea creature. Off they go to try to stop this unstoppable menace.
A couple of important things they don't know: Carly and Danny have snuck off to an island retreat for a little alone time -- an island retreat that's the favorite dining spot of The Beast! Worse, the Sea Beast is a She Beast -- and she's a mom, with a growing and hungry brood!
As dozens of plump, mouth-watering extras are gobbled up -- leaving this fisherman's village a blood-stained ghost town -- the odds of surviving this attack of Demons-from-Davy-Jones'-Locker grow ever slimmer. Will Will join his neighbors as a monster McNugget? Will Arden find a way to show off her smokin' bod in the midst of this apocalypse? Will Danny find a bunch of snarling and ravenous baby creatures more damaging to his love life than his girlfriend's irate dad?
Sea Beast was a Sci-Fi Channel original movie and inexplicably entitled Troglodyte. Like virtually all Sci-Fi Channel movies, it is shoddy and ridiculous. Unlike many, it is also hella fun. This is a throwback to the monster movies of yore, complete with half-baked scientific explanations, imperiled young lovers, lucky-guess solutions -- and some of the most silly-scary scaly green monsters since Toho stopped churning out Gojira movies.
The big mama beast starts out as a hologram, which is later explained as having the ability to camouflage itself, like any good predator. Eventually, we see a frightening thing with lots of teeth. It shoots paralyzing slime at unsuspecting fisherfolk, before devouring them. Occasionally, we see things from the beast's point-of-view; these Beast-o-Vision scenes are entertaining because the monster's eyesight is all colorful and distorted, like an acid trip in an old AIP movie. The babies look like something Ray Harryhausen might have created for his middle school science project, more dinosaur than sea creature. They move in that otherworldly spasmodic way that stop-motion creatures move.
The film runs through all the conventions -- mysterious deaths, baffled townsfolk, misguided hunting party -- and then, around the half-way point, something strange happens: It gets kinda scary. Not memorably scary or classically scary or tell-all-your-friends scary, but scarier than you'd expect from a made-for-TV genre flick (for the Sci-Fi Channel, yet!). Writer/Director Paul Ziller throws just enough curve balls into the mix to keep us off-kilter. While we know the bit players are merely soon-to-be Sea Beast backwash, harm comes to a few oddly significant characters as well. The whole idea of being trapped in a confined space while dozens of hungry beasts maraud nearby plays out with far more tension than I thought it would.
And this thing is bloody. Yes, it's PG-13 bloody -- or TV-M, I guess -- but there are a number of moments that fell far outside what I would have expected to see on the usually benign Sci-Fi Channel. Much of what we see is aftermath, but it's pretty gruesome (I was waiting for Omaha Steaks to be credited for special effects), and one kill is actually shockingly graphic.
The actors are fine if a bit low-key. This film misses its chance at big fun, by being just a tad too somber. There are no over-the-top crazies here. Even the drunkard cleans up his act quickly, and a nominal bad guy doesn't make much of an impression.
I was interested in knowing a little about the genesis of the monsters -- they look kinda crappy for straight-on CGI, which only adds to their charm -- but this is a bare bones release, so that usually disposable extra in which the f/x people tell you how they made what you just saw isn't here. Nothing is here, as a matter-of-fact, just a few previews. It's a little startling that no one asked Corin Nemec and Paul Ziller to do a commentary, but they didn't. As for the tech, it looks like a low-budget TV movie. The 5.1 audio track is pretty strong, though.
Old-school grue and monsters too. Sea Beast is a fun little treat, certainly worth a rental.
Review content copyright © 2009 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated