Eye of the Beast (2004)

Eye of the Beast (2007)

From the depths of the ocean comes man’s darkest fear.

In a small fishing village, panic and fear are spreading as legend of a giant underwater beast grows. When a government scientist is sent to investigate the murky waters, he soon uncovers a sea monster beyond anything he could have ever imagined.

 

The murky depths of the sea become the focus for this monster flick and in this case it’s a giant squid that has been given the ‘token aquatic monster’ tag. If you’ve seen any of the other films produced for the Sci-Fi Channel, you’ll know immediately that this is going to be a by-the-numbers monster flick which delivers mediocre scares, splashes of gore, some CGI monster action and little in the way of originality. I’d also like to state the fact that giant squids and octopi aren’t as over-used as sharks and crocodiles in horror films but there’s been a steady slate of them over the years with none of them doing anything remotely worthwhile with the material, save for The Beast, a TV adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel which runs like Jaws except with a giant squid. I quite enjoyed The Beast but when it’s the best that the “tentacle sea monster” genre has to offer, it’s a pretty shallow indication of how truly awful the squids have been treated over the years. Could Eye of the Beast do any better than its underwhelming offspring?

Let’s look at the check list. Monster – check. Small town / remote location – check. Local authority figure to try and stop monster – check. The expert who arrives to help out – check. Plenty of minor characters for the monster to eat – check. Washed up actor in lead role – check. I laugh how they are called ‘Sci-Fi Originals’ when all they do is slightly re-write the same script to accommodate a different monster. It’s the type of film you could quite easily watch with the sound off and fill in the gaps. It’s also the type of film you could skip right to the end and see how the monster is dispatched, again filling in the blanks between titles and end credits with around 90% accuracy. Such familiarity is the reason why people like myself are drawn to these films. There’s the hope that just one of them will do something different with the formula but it always end in total disappointment!

To say the film is about a giant squid, you’d be forgiven for thinking you may have been duped. There’s not a great deal of squid action and the best you get to see until the finale is some rubbery-looking tentacles. It’s only in the last few minutes that you see the rather ropey CGI squid rear it’s beak out of the water. It’s a complete sham to find out that the back of the DVD contains an image of a squid with its arms completely wrapped around a fishing boat, dragging it into the water. At least some of these other Sci-Fi Originals featured reasonable amounts of time with their star monsters eating people – the squid here seems too ashamed to become the centre of attention. It gets off to a promising enough start with the squid snacking on two loved-up teenagers but then disappears for ages. Usually these films pepper the talking with some kills here and there but this doesn’t even include them. Most of the cast are thinned out at the end of the film when the fishermen set out in a couple of boats to destroy the squid.

James Van Der Beek is our token washed up actor here. The former Dawson’s Creek star plays the scientist but I doubt anyone would mistake him for one. He’s way out of his depth and telling the grunting fisherman not to touch his equipment is about the highlight of his expertise. This is also a film in which the characters looking for the giant squid simply switch to Google Earth and see it from space. It’s that type of film. Alexandra Castillo fares a little better as the token love interest (also doubling up as the token authority figure) but their romance seems forced, pointless and a complete waste of time. Why do I need to see two people falling in love when the film is about a freakin’ giant squid killing people?

On the plus side, this must be one of the first Sci-Fi Channel monster flicks not to include a human bad guy for our characters to fend off. My main gripe about human villains in the other films is that they take away the screen time from the monster. Well there’s no excuse for that here as there aren’t any human bad guys! Yet they still shaft the monster into the background. So what does fill the screen for the majority of the running time? Not a lot it has to be said.

 

There’s something fishy around here and Eye of the Beast certainly reeks of it. Slow, plodding and being overly dull is not a good combination when the audience are only watching for some squid action. Peter Benchley’s The Beast was a far superior giant squid flick.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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