Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring George Stults, Polly Shannon, Alex McArthur, Texas Battle, Dawn Olivieri, Michael Shamus Wiles, Roark Critchlow, Jana Williams, William Gregory Lee
Directed by Andrew Prendergast
Four gazillionaires are on a yacht heading to a deserted island for the ultimate luxury adventure for the person who has it all but still isn't satisfied: hunting humans for sport. The organizer of this most dangerous game is going to be paid tens of millions a pop to provide these bloodthirsty tycoons with four criminals to hunt and kill, each guilty of a crime that somehow correlates to a misdeed the wealthy hunters have had perpetrated against them. The four potential victims find themselves held captive in the ship's hull before arriving at an island where they will then be off-loaded and given a 24-hour head start before the hunt begins. It just happens that the island selected is home to a multi-headed serpentine hydra of Greek mythology. What are the odds?
If you're talking about the Sci-Fi Channel-bound creature feature Hydra then the odds are quite good. Odds are also quite good that somewhere on the island is the mythical sword of Hercules, the only possible weapon that can slay the legendary serpent. Funny how these things tend to work out on the Sci-Fi Channel.
Further complicating matters for the bloodthirsty billionaires is the last minute replacement for the fourth potential slot in their trophy case, a guy that the unscrupulous captain of the boat harbors a deep seeded grudge against and just so happens to be a former Special Forces soldier. George Stults of the defunct series "7th Heaven" is cast as this heroic ex-Special Forces soldier. I say "is cast" because he was definitely cast as a tough ex-military survivalist type but I sure as heck didn't buy him in the role. Without him building traps and keeping the other inept three organized I have a hard time believing those wealthy hunters wouldn't be demanding their money back.
The characterizations of both the hunters and the hunted are shallow at best, non-existent at worst. The potential prey could just as easily been introduced as a group of college friends out on some island excursion and you'd never realize they're supposed to be ex-cons who've been kidnapped and hunted for sport.
The hunters - most of them barely even get any dialogue; they're just there to get chomped. Nothing even comes of the aspect about how each hunter has had their life irrevocably altered by a crime similar to that committed by the people they're hunting. Even the whole hunt aspect comes up short. It's just a small group of people stumbling about a landscape not doing much of anything until the monster makes its timely appearance to thin the cast.
Alex McArthur plays the hunt's scheming organizer and he dances circles around everyone else in the cast. Too bad he spends almost the entire film on the boat away from the action. Even the actress playing his money-grubbing, often bikini clad, trophy wife comes across as more villainous than anyone actually doing the hunting.
Also on this island is a female archaeologist, the lone survivor of a research expedition that fell prey to the hydra. Her character exists solely to explain what the monster is to the others and point them in the direction of the mystical sword that can kill it.
The true star is the hydra, the enormous three-headed snake (though the heads look more like toothy eels to me) that each time it loses a head it grows two new ones in its place. Those heads multiply fast - the better to chomp you to death. I can happily say that Sci-Fi Channel digital effects have come a long way since the days of Snake King (review), a truly rancid Sci-Fi creature feature from years ago with a similar multi-headed, serpentine monstrosity.
All in all, Hydra is a relatively run-of-the-mill Sci-Fi Channel monster movie that perks up whenever the monster goes on the attack but fails to give you much to hold your attention when the hydra isn't on the screen chomping the hell out of people. Best served as background fodder, a movie to have on while you're doing something else and can look up periodically when the title monster appears to do what it does. If you don't pay too much attention to anything in between you really won't be missing much.
2 out of 5
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