Sea Beast (2009)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Corin Nemec, Miriam McDonald, Daniel Wisler, Gary Hudson
Directed by Paul Ziller
Sea Beast. Wow. What a creative title. What's our movie about? A beast from the sea? Hmmm... What are we going to call it? Water Monster? Nah. Not snazzy enough. How about Sea Beast? Winner!
Would you believe that before Sea Beast came to be known as Sea Beast, the original title was... Troglodyte? But aren't troglodytes primitive cavemen-like hominids that have more in common physically with Sasquatch than the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Words I'm fairly certain that have never before been used to describe a troglodyte: aquatic, reptilian, fishy, webbed-fingers, gill-breathing, egg-laying, amphibious. Now if they wanted to get cheeky like with Mansquito and title the film Froglodyte, better believe I could have gotten behind that. Hell, title a movie Froglodyte, and I'll give it a rave review just based on the title alone.
That at one time the title of a film about a deep sea fish monster was Troglodyte leads me to suspect that either there were radical changes made during the creative process or nobody involved initially had any comprehension of what a troglodyte is. The latter is entirely possible when you consider we are talking about a Sci-Fi Channel original movie; for them, science is merely the mouthful of chewing tobacco to be spat every two weeks into the visual chaw cup that is their Saturday night original movie time slot.
In retrospect, Sea Beast is a perfectly acceptable and rather appropriate title for a monster movie as unimaginative as this. An amphibious man-eating monster from the deepest dregs of the ocean arrives in a perpetually overcast fishing village and goes on a killing spree with its recently hatched little ones. That's all she wrote, folks. Monsters go after people with zero depth and little personality. People with zero depth and little personality go after monsters. People with zero depth and little personality die. Monsters die. Rinse and repeat for 90 minutes. Never a total bore yet never anything more than what it is, which isn't much.
Director Paul Ziller covered this same territory for the Sci-Fi Channel last year with Loch Ness Terror. That creature feature possessed a peppier pace, a lighter tone, and was considerably more fun to watch. It may have been by-the-numbers, but the numbers added up to something that clicked. I liked the concept of the sea beast they came up with there enough to be entertained by its monstrous antics while still wishing it was the star of a movie with a little more ambition than its uber generic title suggests. When that beast from the sea isn't on the screen attacking, there is nothing of interest going on.
Corin Nemec, going for the Guinness World Record for "Most Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies Starred In" it would appear, stars as a down-on-his-luck fishing boat captain in financial dire straits and a local pariah because nobody believes him when he tells them something snatched a crewmate from his boat during his last failed fishing trip. I'd be willing to guess Nemec watched a few episodes of "Deadliest Catch" in preparation for his role as he appeared to be trying to channel some of that Sig Hansen mojo, only he ends up coming across more like a humorless Denis Leary.
Nemec gets help from a pretty marine biologist; she's not really a love interest nor does she contribute much to the outcome. Nemec's teen daughter (Miriam McDonald, Emma of TV's "Degrassi: The Next Generation") and her dullard boyfriend get trapped in an isolated house under siege by the sea beast babies. The sheriff foolishly rounds up a small posse to patrol the woods. Nemec's best friend goes a little crazy and believes smearing himself with dead fish and locking himself in a shark cage on a dock armed with a spear gun is an effective means to fight a malicious merman.
A prime reason why Sea Beast proves to be such ho-hum hokum when the monster isn't front and center can be best summed up in a major subplot about the young man dating Nemec's daughter. He gets bitten by the monster trying to get a picture with his cell phone and afterwards talks about the experience in the same way you'd describe seeing a strange dog in the neighborhood you didn't recognize and displays even less concern than one would after being bitten by a stray dog. That his bite wound is becoming suspiciously infected doesn't appear to worry him in the slightest, not that it should since that aspect of the subplot never builds to anything at all.
The sea beast is said to be a mutant form of the angler fish, a rather ghastly looking deep sea fish capable of bioluminescence and known for the appendage on its head that acts as a lure to reel in prey. Freakish in appearance - though not nearly as freakish as an actual angler fish, looking a bit more like a fishy version of Marvel Comics' Venom, the angler fishman monster is capable of turning translucent so as to give it Predator stealth abilities and spits a venomous slime that incapacitates victims, and in place of that head appendage, instead it possesses a very long tongue that's wonderful for snaring and strangling. Not to mention how surprisingly spry this bear-sized amphibious freak of nature is, capable of out-hopping a chupacabra. Come to think; I don't believe I've ever seen a movie about a sea monster that spent this much time hiding out in the brush waiting to attack prey from above.
A movie titled Sea Beast about a creature from the darkest oceanic depths that spends more time on land and up in the trees than in the water...? Bless you, Sci-Fi Channel.
2 1/2 out of 5
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