Aquatic horror can be hard to pull off. Sharks and corrupts mayors of seaside town’s rule the scene, and everything is a Jaws rip-off or just trash. The challenge is aquatic monsters are fairly easy to avoid. Just stay out of the ocean. This is easy for me because I know the ocean is a giant septic tank and I don’t want to swim in whale shit and God knows what else. This genre is even harder to do in a cheap movie for all the usual reasons on top of the simplicity in avoiding the danger. Pair that with characters with jobs and lifestyles that many of us cannot relate to, and there is an unfortunate degree of separation from the situation. The secret to making a good aqua horror movie is to:
- Put the characters in an inescapable situation such as a sinking ship, an oil rig, a submarine, etc.
- Make the characters likable/relatable so that we feel for their plight, i.e. they have to be on a boat due to financial circumstances or otherwise.
- Or make the horror something that goes beyond. Something that can leave the water, and thus brings the horror home for the characters and the viewer.
Bering Sea Beast hinges its entire plot on that third premise. I don’t know what I expected going into this movie. SyFy normally gives its films flashier titles to make them sound fun, or at least potentially interesting. And given the subject matter, I think a more evocative title could have been written.
Normally I give my general thoughts then go into a detailed spoiler-filled rant about the movie. This one isn’t really worth a rant. It just paints by the numbers and doesn’t try to do anything different. And the theme is so confusing. We have an unknown species stirred up by sea dredging, but this isn’t an environmental movie, and these things already existed and had been killing animals, so they would have had to have encountered humans at some point, which kills any mystique they might have had.
The characters are either bland, whiny, or amazingly idiotic. Such as the marine biologist that keeps a dead diver and doesn’t alert the police so the kill isn’t labeled as a shark attack. Like, what the fuck does it matter? The biologist doesn’t work for the police. In fact, the police never even show up in this movie, so there was no need to bring them up in context to holding the body. But even if they were, was the biologist afraid the coroner would try to prove it was a shark attack? And how would that impact the plot in the least??
The dialogue is so bad. Sometimes it’s like a character is reading their lines from a teleprompter. And almost nothing these people say feels like a real conversation. Everything is just awkwardly stated. This actually made me miss the line reads from Insecticidal. I will say this about the plot; the biologist wants to study the creatures for science and not to make them into weapons or whatever. That was a breath of fresh writing.
What’s that? I haven’t really talked about the plot? People dredge, monsters get mad. People fight monsters because the monsters killed their dad. And because superheroes need a dead parent to make their crusade more noble. The cast is unimportant because they haven’t been in anything noteworthy, and because I’m still not sure who the main character is. Normally there’s a main girl and guy, surrounded by sweet, sweet cannon fodder. This time, there’s a girl and two guys, but the brother has about as much screen time as the other guy. Normally I would applaud them not making the potential survivors obvious, but here it’s just a case of none of the characters getting any sort of development. The villain is fun because he’s bad, but he’s still as one-dimensional as everyone else. The biologist is literally unimportant to the plot. But super important to the padding!
The sea vampires – yes, SEA VAMPIRES – look like stingrays, but I suppose it would take too much effort to write an explanation for that into the story. Additionally, there is a bizarre Alien vibe; from a baby sea vampire bursting from the dad’s chest to another one that looks like a face hugger.
Not to mention the things have shiny, slimy black skin. I think my favorite part is when they discover that UV rays hurt these things (to hammer that vampire theme) but this discovery comes before and after a scene where a sea vampire attacks people in broad daylight. Oops.
The ending is ehh. They rig up UV weapons and go to kill the… yawn. You know how it ends. You would think that building vampire-killing weapons would make a fun montage a la Evil Dead or something, but nah. This movie is just so tedious. No fun. No gore. Not even a cheap jump scare.