film reel image

film reel image

Friday, September 1, 2023

The Black Demon 2023 * * 1/2 Stars


2023's The Black Demon is directed by the relatively unknown Adrian Grunberg (Rambo: Last Blood, Get the Gringo). Probably aware of the million or so Jaws remakes existing, Grunberg decides to provide a new hook with "Demon". That's right, "Demon's" shark makes you hallucinate, gives you a guilt trip, and targets you as if it had a human brain. "This time... it's personal". Actually yeah, it is.

Taking place in Mexico via an oil rig in the middle of nowhere, The Black Demon starts with a strong opening act, letting the audience know that townspeople can be just as cold as those pesky marine fish (a hint of 1972's Deliverance I suppose). "Demon" also provides plenty of shark speak and um, shark psychobabble. Whatever Matt Hooper said back forty-plus years ago, well that was just technical stuff and not really numinous.

The Black Demon stars unknowns Venus Ariel and Fernanda Urrejola and veteran actor Josh Lucas. Lucas knowing that he's starring in a B-movie and maybe being accused of pay-checking it, decides to run with his role as oil company inspector Paul Sturges. Battling a big-arse megalodon along with a few of his own inner demons (pun intended), Josh's Sturges is the antihero family man with flaws and secrets that are steadily exposed. His performance here is raw and unvarnished. I mean no one does angered, spit-fire dialogue quite like my man Lucas.

All things considered, The Black Demon has its moments but in the end it can't escape being another shark vehicle, looking to one up all the others only to thrive into fish food rinse, recurrence. It certainly doesn't help that the filmmakers clearly were on a budget, what with all the megalodon attacks not fully showing the mortal carnage (lots of cutaway shots instead). Yeah it's mostly murky mise-en-scenes, harboring a little suspense but never making you think it could actually be Spielbergian (cause it's clearly not). Hey at least the darn apex predator looks as big as ever. "Black and tan".

Written by Jesse Burleson

No comments:

Post a Comment