There are many reasons why we watch a particular horror movie. Likely, the poster of the film is not one of the main ones, even if sometimes it can tell us something about the level of the movie (think, for example, of a lousy poster with an amateurish design, which usually indicates a bad film that everything about it is terrible). In the case of “The Black Demon,” I must say, the poster intrigued me a lot. As such when you see him as a massive shark with extremely sharp teeth, coming to eat some unfortunate person.
Of course, my expectations were low after hearing the horrible Black Demon reviews (a score of 3.7 out of 10 on IMDB, as of the time of these lines) and the limited box office success, with revenues of approximately three million dollars against a budget of roughly ten million. But they say that this movie was quite successful in streaming, and it was available on TV – obviously, I won’t see a film with such a rating in the cinema – so I decided to watch it a few months later.
Put it this way: I have an inexplicable fondness for shark movies, including the bad ones. In many cases, shark movies fall into the category of being so bad that they’re funny, or even fun: because it’s a lot of fun to laugh at a shark that looks like a computer graphics accident, that behaves exactly the opposite of what sharks are supposed to act (and this is also true for the characters in the movie). This movie does not precisely fulfill these conditions, and it is difficult to say that it is a successful film. All the information in “The Black Demon” reviews.
Don’t Mess With The Tlaloc
It started promisingly. The film introduced the “opening rules” in its prologue. It turns out that off the coast of Baja California, one of the 31 states that make up Mexico, there is, according to local legend, a giant megalodon shark that comes when called, or something like that, and causes people to see visions of death. This shark is called “The Black Demon” (in Spanish: “El Demonio Negro”), and in the rather sloppy opening scene it kills several unfortunate fishermen. Quite implicitly, because you don’t see him.
The heroes of the film are members of the Sturges family. Paul (Josh Lucas, “A Beautiful Mind,” “American Psycho,” “The Purge Forever”) is an oil company worker who arrives with his family members on a trip to Mexico that is supposed to combine business and pleasure. Paul has to check the condition of one of the gas rigs. The rest of the time, the family members – the wife, Ines (Chilean actress Fernanda Urrejola), and the two children, Audrey (Venus Ariel) and Tommy (Carlos Solorzano) – are supposed to enjoy themselves in the lively coastal town, hopefully with him Because he is going on a simple mission of a few hours.
The problem is that the family discovers that the town is quite deserted, and the locals harass them because the gas rig has apparently awakened the shark, killing everyone it encounters. It turns out that man’s destruction of the sea angered Tlaloc, the god of rain, fertility, and water in Aztec mythology. He sent the megalodon shark because only the sacrifice of flesh and blood could appease his rage.
In a series of blunders and puzzling decisions, Paul – who doesn’t believe in this legend (if I understood correctly his intention behind phrases like “Take your Aztec bullshit and shove it up your ass”) – sails alone to see the condition of the rig and discovers that it is abandoned almost entirely abandoned. The exception is the two employees (the veteran Mexican actor Julio Cesar Cedillo manages to stand out with a good role). The wife and children arrive at a bar to pass the time but need help from the locals, so the most logical thing is to get to the heart of the sea. In the end, you can guess, everyone will find themselves on top of the abandoned oil rig, surrounded by the same workers, especially by a shark that won’t let them leave.
Here’s “The Black Demon” trailer, which, like the poster, doesn’t tell the real story here:
OK, Cool. But Where Is The Shark?
So far, “The Black Demon” seems to have the potential to be a bad movie with a bit of a guilty pleasure. The main problem is that the shark’s presence in it is, as we said, very minimal. If, according to the poster, we could expect a massive shark with sharp jaws, throughout the film, we hardly see it, and we certainly do not see in a threatening way the danger it causes or the people it kills.
It may be that the decision to “save” the shark’s appearance stems from budgetary or ideological considerations, as we will see later. Still, there is no doubt that it is difficult to expect a shark movie to work without a dominant shark, no matter how scary the legend about it is or how cool it looks on the poster. The result is that the film doesn’t really manage to create an atmosphere of tension, and certainly not fun for fans of the genre who like to see a shark tear apart unfortunate people. It’s like watching a “Five Nights at Freddy’s” movie but finding out that, in reality, the screen time of the famous animatronics is limited.
Another problem with the film is that it needs to solidify its style. It starts like a generic shark movie from a subgenre that is one of my favorites: people stuck in the middle of the sea, unable to communicate with the outside world (Like Duh), when any attempt to leave is likely to end in death. But along the journey, he changes directions a bit. Sometimes, it behaves like an action movie, where the hero and other characters have to crack sophisticated ways to deal with a threat. Along with clear elements of survival in the face of nature, the film, in several cases, goes toward a ghost film, but these are short scenes that are far from effective. And there is also folk horror, mainly with various symbols and statues.
The Black Demon: A Telenovela Disguised As A Horror Movie
It turns out that there is not only horror here. In other cases, the style is reminiscent of a telenovela, perhaps even one from Mexico, Chile, or other countries associated with the film or cast. This style is especially evident in some inflated dialogues between the two adults in the group, with the woman’s accusations against the man and moral arguments of one sort or another (“You are the animal. Not this thing outside”), scenes with a bit of overacting.
I think the cast tried to do their best with what they had to work with, but the movie seems to go into telenovela territory at times (not that I’ve ever seen a telenovela!), and it doesn’t seem strictly related. The relationships between the children and between them and their parents include some excellent points, except for the first meeting with the family in the car on the way to a trip. In this scene, the children were so unbearable that I expected a vast shark to come out of the glove compartment and devour them to death. Some scenes show the family members unite and show love, and some characters go through an inevitable process. Still, some puzzling dialogues and behaviors seem a bit random. The heroes’ decisions are pretty baffling, including the sacrifice of one of them in the final scene.
There are several cases in which the film also examines a cynical style or humor that does not fit with its other parts, such as a discussion that repeats several times about the color of the hero’s fancy shirt. These parts seemed forced as if someone saw that the film was too “serious” and decided to add some humor. The problem is the movie didn’t decide whether to be dark or funny; the combination seems artificial and doesn’t work. For me, a film that goes between the drops, like “The Black Demon,” misses a bit.
Man Is The Monster Blah Blah Blah
“The Black Demon” – brings up an ecological discussion, which is common in survival movies. You don’t need to be a great expert on ecology to understand that the film tries to imply, and perhaps succeeds, that the real monster here is man rather than the shark. Human beings are the one who destroys nature to get rich (allegedly) while ignoring problems to make themself reacher. The film reasonably tries to present Paul’s character as “stuck into the situation,” forced to ignore ecological failings and not to be fired, but this only adds to the discussion. “The Black Demon” is not the movie that will make you ponder for long hours about the damage that man causes to nature because that’s what the Discovery Channel or the news is for, and it is not a horror thriller. But raising awareness of a specific topic is also something.
For these reasons, we may try to understand why they decided to reduce the presentation of the shark. In other words, instead of getting a shark movie, we get an ecological parable in which man is the monster. It may sound good on paper, but you can see the disappointment of many horror fans, who expected here… well, a horror movie.
It is impossible to ignore the choice of the film to refer to the relationship between the white American, rich and full of pleasure, and the Mexicans. This is not surprising, given the identity of the director. Adrian Grunberg, an American-Mexican, also dealt with the tensions between these countries in his previous films (“Get the Gringo” with Mel Gibson, “Rambo: Last Blood” with Sylvester Stallone).
Here, the confrontation between the two sides is very prominent, with shots by the locals who look as if they came out of the West as “the others,” the dialogues that perpetuate the differences between the cultures, and even some choices that are anything but accidental, like naming the company the hero works for after American President Nixon. Although in the end, the parties will see that they manage to cooperate and the like, these highlights slightly divert the film from its direction and contribute to the fact that it is scattered, busy, and a little tedious.
The Bottom Line Of The Black Demon Review: Should You Watch It?
Ultimately, “The Black Demon” is far from being a good shark film or a movie as a whole. It misses big, especially in the threat presentation, and could have been much more enjoyable than it is. The positives: It had some interesting parts, and I’ve seen worse shark movies. That’s something, too.