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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Hydra (2009)

"Prepare to be consumed"


Four millionaires pay a shady businessman to arrange them the ultimate hunt - live human prey. So four criminals are kidnapped, shipped out to a remote tropical island and given a 24-hour head start before the hunters set off in pursuit. What none of them reckon with is the multi-headed mythical monster, the Hydra, which lives on the island.


Jeez, that plot seems to be stretching it just a bit. It sounded believable enough as some low grade The Most Dangerous Game-style actioner until the completely random inclusion of the Hydra on the island. I mean come on Sci-Fi Channel, could you not just have had some giant lizard or dinosaur living there which could be somewhat explained through science instead of a mythical monster which has no grounding in reality? Anyhow, with this being the Sci-Fi Channel and this being one of it's ‘creature features’ that it has been spewing out rapidly over the last few years, the Hydra is going to be as important as a pair of snow shoes in the Sahara desert by the time the credits roll. Any giant monster would have worked in the same silly story but the makers of Hydra don't really care. They've got an hour and a half to fill a television schedule with this and they stick to the tried-and-tested formula.

As with the majority of the Sci-Fi Channel's output, Hydra is mostly throwaway junk. The story is just awful as I've already commented on - daft mumbo jumbo about Hercules' sword and incorporating some of the mythology really doesn't fit in with the realism of the rest of the script. It's had potential on paper with the ‘hunting humans as prey’ story but absolutely nothing is made of it once it has been introduced. The actual hunt wasn't even worth starting as the characters run around for a bit before the Hydra finishes everyone off pretty quickly. The characters are all terrible one-note stereotypes, with the group of ‘convicts’ looking like they have come straight out of college - it will need all of your imagination to buy them as seasoned cons. It would have been easier to have them as kidnapped freshmen instead of apparent cons. At least it would explain the goofy black guy and the unnecessary romance between the single male and the single female characters.

The hunters fare no better as each has a few lines of dialogue before they head off to the island. Just to distinguish them all, they dress in different ‘stereotypical hunter attire’ meaning one guy wears an English-style tweed jacket and flat cap, another wears camouflage, the redneck wears the cowboy hat and I can't remember what the other guy was wearing but it was ‘hunter-esque.’ Even the characters on the ship are all one-dimensional goofs. The captain just chomps cigars all of the time but at least looks like he's having fun with his role. His crew are all just random muscle men who are simply sent to the island to provide more fodder for the Hydra. At least Jana Williams provides some much needed glamour and sex appeal as the businessman's wife. But alas this is Sci-Fi Channel material so the closest she gets to being naked is a quick bikini shot. Hydra really needed an injection of some glamour or eye candy but this isn't enough.

Let's get to the actual Hydra because that's what fans of the Sci-Fi Channel's creature features really care about. Terrible is all that I can really say and this might as well have been any other giant animated snake for all it's unique qualities were focused on. CGI effects just don't cut it when they are this shoddy. The Hydra in Jason and the Argonauts from 1963 still looks infinitely more realistic and threatening than this mess of sprites and pixels. The monster grows two heads when it loses one (as per the myth) but this only happens when people actually fight back. Most of the time, its victims just fall over unconvincingly and let it eat them. It gets very well fed during the film but that's about all you see of it. It has the ability to sneak up on people almost without a sound and doesn't leave any tracks on the sand when it slithers across to devour a couple of boneheads shooting pistols at it. If you see a giant monster which clearly wants to eat you and you are armed with a small pistol, what would you do? Run away as fast as you can and use the pistol as a last resort or just stand there and fire aimlessly in the hope that your small bullet will hit a vital organ? I'm not a fast person but I'd be out there like a flash!

The monster just rips CGI people apart and there's plenty of CGI gore but it all amounts to very little as it happens so often. I want to see slow deaths - getting eaten alive in these films is an instant death in most cases and the monsters chew people up too easily for my liking. The bulk of the cast are whittled away far too quickly before they find a way to combat the monster, given the narrative a bit of an imbalance with pace - too much carnage happens too early for the threat to be established to the surviving characters. On the positive side, this is one of the few Sci-Fi Channel films that I've seen that doesn't fill up the cast with Eastern European hacks. Everyone speaks English perfectly which is a nice change!


Final Verdict

Hydra actually had potential in my opinion but that was all frittered away within the opening few minutes with a terrible script that has no idea how to handle the mythology and turn it into a relevant feature film. The mythological monster is one of the scariest out there and when treat right, it can actually look awesome. But the Hydra totally deserves better than this drivel. Slightly better than your usual Sci-Fi Channel guff but that's not exactly a badge of honour.



Director(s): Andrew Prendergast

Writer(s): Peter Sullivan

Actor(s): Dwayne Adway, Texas Battle, Roark Critchlow, William Gregory Lee, Alex McArthur, Philip Moon, Dawn Olivieri

Duration: 94 mins


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