“Believe me, that weren’t no shark.”
Sea Beast began life with the title Troglodyte, but I’m not sure what that had to do with anything on this movie. Perhaps someone just thought it was a clever name, but realizing they didn’t have a clever film to go with it, they decided on the more mundane Sea Beast. Whatever the reason and whatever the title, nothing can change the fact that this is one really bad horror film.
A crew of fishermen is caught out in a horrific storm. They are fighting for their lives just to keep from flipping over or sinking when one of the crew is taken by a nearly invisible creature. Most of the crew believe he was washed overboard by the enormous waves, but Captain Will McKenna (Nemec) knows otherwise. In the dim of the storm he caught a glimpse of the creature, but unsure of exactly what he saw, he said nothing. The ship makes it back to port where we discover that McKenna’s not necessarily a real popular man, and losing a crewman isn’t going to help that reputation. Then locals start dying, apparently ripped to shreds by some animal. McKenna suspects that what he saw was real and that the creature has followed him to port. It turns out there are several of the creatures now in town. They have the appearance and characteristics of angler fish. They have long tongues and shoot a paralyzing green slime. They can also turn somewhat invisible. As McKenna tries to get the town to believe his story, the creatures are having and all you can eat buffet.
The film is filled with plenty of the expected stock characters:
Sheriff Jay McKenna (Hudson) doesn’t quite understand what’s going on until it’s too late.
Ben (Stait) is the town’s crazy drunk. Every small movie town has at least one of these. Ben was once a fisherman himself, but he also saw the creature take a crewman. He’s the first one to believe what’s going on and tries to help out. He ends up somewhat divided on the issue.
Arden (Sullivan) is the pretty biologist who provides all of the inane exposition. She’s also somewhat of a love interest for Will.
Roy (Podhora) is the local bully. He owns Will’s ship and puts the squeeze on him for his money. When the killin’ starts he’s the gun totin’ crazy who wants to go out and kill the beast. Needless to say, you can guess how that works out for him. We know what happens to characters the writers go out of their way to make us hate. There has to be at least one victim that we want to see get it.
These characters are never quite developed enough, and any real characterization you find is the result of the performance, and not the script. The characters all look out of place. This is supposed to be a fishing village, and these guys are supposed to be fishermen. Look at their hair and hands and you’ll soon come to the conclusion that the closest these guys ever came to working the sea is towing a surfboard out to the next wave. You’d think that any kind of make-up department would work up a few sunburns and coarse hands.
There’s nothing really original about the story, but it would be serviceable enough if it weren’t for the awful creature effects. The CG work here is really second (or tenth) rate. There’s no texture to the creatures, and they look painfully obvious as f/x. They do not blend in well with their environments, and the kill scenes don’t appear to match up very convincingly. They invisible effect is a cheap imitation of the old Predator effect. They appear to shimmer somewhat against the background.
The acting isn’t as bad as most of these kinds of films. I first remember Corin Nemec as Michael Shanks’ replacement on Stargate SG-1 for a year. He did rather well and does so again here with what he has to work with. He makes a strong enough hero. Camille Sullivan is a fine enough actress, but she appears completely out of place as the scientist with the answers here. Half the time she appears unsure of her character, and it leaves holes big enough to drive a starship in her performance. Perhaps the best actor is Brent Stait, who gets the most colorful character to work with. He’s actually quite good, better in fact than this film deserves.
Sea Beast is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This is not a very sharp or detailed picture. The picture is, unfortunately, good enough to notice how bad the CG is. Colors all seem a bit soft and washed out. There is an occasional breakthrough of color, most notably a costume here and there. Overall it’s a very weak, average at its best presentation.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio actually is pretty darn good. The opening storm provides some rather sweet surround effects and a generally dynamic mix. The dialog is always good and easy to hear. The music isn’t too exciting, but I was impressed by the expanded sound field.
This was originally a television film and works out just fine in that context. I would probably watch this kind of thing if I caught it while channel surfing late one night. It might even be an okay rental if you have one of those unlimited rental memberships. If you have to pay out any money for this one, don’t. It’ll likely show up on television again at some point, so wait for it there. If you’re tempted by the rather cool cover art to pick this one up by laying your hard earned cash on the table, “Don’t make a fool of yourself”.