The Black Demon, or any other shark movie for that matter, might not have been the most apparent choice after the trainwreck that was Cocaine Shark and with the spectre of Jurassic Shark 3: Seavenge hanging over me. However, I was drawn to this one as soon as it was revealed, and it was difficult to resist the allure of a finned horror movie with a sizable enough budget to give it some punch.
Not exactly a name that inspires trust, Paul Sturges (Josh Lucas, Session 9, The Forever Purge) works as the safety officer for Nixon Oil. He and his family have been dispatched to Baja for the purpose of inspecting one of the company’s rigs.
His son Tommy (Carlos Solorzan, Yoga Friends, Flamin’ Hot), daughter Audrey (Venus Ariel, NCIS: New Orleans, Exposed), and wife Ines (Fernanda Urrejola, The Fist of the Condor, Narcos: Mexico) can take a vacation even though he has to work.
Shark attack movie bites off more than it can chew
It appears that the trip was not be enjoyable, regrettably. He hasn’t been to the rig in a while, and the folks that are still there are antagonistic towards him and his family. The down has gone close to being abandoned. Supposed to transport him to the rig, the boatman said it “woke the demon.” Paul is discovering that there is a major leak on the rig, and everyone is missing except for Chato (Julio Cesar Cedillo, Sicario, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada), Junior (Jorge A. Jimenez, Machete Kills), Narcos, and their chihuahua, Toro. Meanwhile, Innes brings the family out to join Paul on the rig after a run-in with drunken locals who have an unhealthy interest in Audrey.
Mexico appears to be Adrian Grunberg’s passion; the country was the setting for both of his previous films, Rambo: Last Blood and Get the Gringo. This time, he’s working from a script that weaves together mythology, enormous monsters, and ecological problems. It was written by Carlos Cisco (Star Trek: Discovery, East Los High) and Boise Esquerra (Blackwater, Surrender at Crow Lake).
Apparently in the black demon, the rig has been leaking for months, but corporate decided it wasn’t worth the cost to fix. Before sending Paul, they didn’t even try to notify him. Has this made the god Tlaloc of the Aztecs come back to exact revenge? Or is it just a passing megalodon that decided to take a liking to sushi made by oil workers? It’s clear that The Black Demon wants you to think this is more than just another The Meg knockoff as people start having hallucinations and information is disclosed.
The Black Demon a Killer Shark?
Regretfully, for a monster film There isn’t much tension in the movie as they search for a way off the rig before it is destroyed, and the Black Demon is sparing with its views of the monster. The arguments between Paul and Chato on who is at fault for the leak and how it affected the villagers take up far too much of the show. Sadly, this never gets any deeper or more insightful than talking points and cliches, and all it does is waste time that could be used more effectively.
There aren’t nearly enough of the well-executed scenes in the black demon where the shark stalks anyone unfortunate enough to be in the water. Additionally, when we do receive them, they are concluded with predictable and hackneyed shocks for the audience. The CGI in The Black Demon is superior to average, or perhaps I have low expectations because I’ve watched too many scary shark flicks, but the title creature still looks spectacular. The main gory gag in the movie, which explains why it has a “R” rating, looks good. But nearly forty years ago, in Argento’s Phenomena, a scenario in which Audrey finds herself swimming amid various body parts was done considerably better.
Regretfully, The Black Demon proves to be yet another letdown. Both as an eco-thriller and as a horror film, it falls flat. Even the conclusion is a disgustingly cynical exercise in phoney dignity and lacks the visual impact I was hoping for. While it’s not as horrible as The Requin or Cocaine Shark, it still had the potential to be worse and squandered the opportunity.