Pushing my luck in the Amazon Prime Torture Dungeon after the gonzo awesomeness of last week’s The Being, I decided to roll the dice on a Giant Lake Squid Horror Movie starring Dawson of Dawson’s Creek fame. Since there is a hard cap on how good this can be, the only question is, how terrible is this movie? My optimism is high with this one. Let’s check it out, shall we?
Eye of the Beast (2007)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A teenage couple in a dinghy in the middle of a lake attempt a little pre-marital nookie, and wouldn’t you know it, they are attacked and their boat capsized by a rubbery looking tentacled Beast. Yes, it’s a documentary of those scary Giant Lake Squids. Note my sarcasm.
Eye of the Beast is a Canadian made for Syfy Channel movie produced by the dubious Hallmark movie guys and directed by a dude who did a bunch of Lifetime Channel Christmas movies, so that’s the team to make a “scare your butt off” monster horror movie, right? I’m having some serious doubts. I’m not entirely sure if this movie is supposed to be funny or is actually taking itself seriously. There aren’t really jokes and the tone is grim with gray, subdued photography but then, you know, it features a Giant Lake Squid prominently in the poster and the title. Cheesy rubber monster aside, the production values are not bad. There’s some decent acting, plenty of boat sailing footage, and a little style. Not a lot, but a little.
James Van Der Beek, AKA Dawson Creek, is an oceanographer who is investigating disappearances of the local fish populations. Do you think it could be caused by the Giant Lake Squid? I sure do. There’s some casual racism as the locals call the Native American female Sheriff’s Deputy “Pocahontas.” So on one hand, the movie features a Native American leading character, but on the other hand, they have the townsfolk toss around racial stereotypes, so I’m not giving the movie too much credit. The racist Canadians eventually do team up with the Inuits to fight the monster, but it’s just so we have twice the amount of squid chum. So point given, point taken away.
After the initial Squid cockblocking, the next day a tourist dad is attacked by the tentacled Beast coming out of two inches deep water. Maybe it’s only a Very Large Lake Squid. Or merely a Slightly Above Average-Sized Lake Squid. Since a Lake Squid is a ridiculous concept to begin with, I guess it could be any size the filmmakers say it is.
Dawson and some sailors find remnants of the nookie dinghy. They try to rescue the dude who they find floating. “Is he dead?” one asks, just before he makes a weak fake-out scare as he suddenly wakes up. The actors pretend it’s scary, but it’s not. The dude is raving about some horrible monster. Let’s see how long this movie prolongs the mystery of what the Beast actually is, and why its eye is so dang important.
Dawson acts as if the babbling of a crazy half-dead man, some circular patterns imprinted on the destroyed boat, and a quick Google search of squids add up to a mystery. Since we know what the monster is, the movie takes its sweet time getting to the good bits. There’s a lot of romantic tension chit-chat between Dawson and the Deputy and I started to doze off. Since the producers were paying Dawson, they figured he should engage in his patented flirty banter and stoic squinty-eyed sensitivity to the detriment of drama, tension, or excitement.
Then in case you forgot the plot beats of Jaws, they come across the corpse of the tourist and a night fisherman finds a foot, right about the same time Richard Dreyfus found the decapitated hand. And the movie’s rip-off of the “We need a bigger boat” line is “We need two boats.” Dawson doesn’t explain that the second boat is for all the red shirts that need to get squid-munched in order for our heroes to survive unscathed.
This movie is lacking in forward momentum or the “anything goes” cheesiness that this story deserves. Instead, we get several heart to hearts between the Deputy and her mom, with much wine drinking, some dull relationship chats with Dawson, and the Deputy in several Canadian local meetings where the townspeople gripe about something eating all of the fish. I will admit that I fell asleep during this boring middle section. I did rewind to see if I missed anything good, but sadly, no.
We do get a final battle with the squid, but it’s just as lame as the rest of the movie. There’s a lot of thrashing around with rubber tentacles and actors pretending to get dragged out to sea… er, lake. The single best moment of the movie occurs when one sailor is being yanked off the boat by Mega-Squid. He manages to grab onto the boat railing for an eternity despite being dragged towards certain doom by a 10,000 pound sea monster. Then just when his buddy can grab his hand to rescue him, wouldn’t you know it, his arm pops off. Man, doesn’t that always happen? I laughed, because I’m demented.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Holy cow is this a dull movie. Van Der Beek is a low-energy actor in a ponderous slog of a movie. He is supposed to be the hero, but he manages to avoid doing anything dangerous or is even threatened by the squid. It’s as if he agreed to do the movie only if he doesn’t have to pretend to be attacked by a rubber monster and he never gets his hair wet. They needed some high energy crazy guy like Christopher Lloyd or Jeffrey Combs to keep the story moving between rubber squid attacks. Also, I hate movies with stupid premises like a man-eating Sort-of Giant Lake squid, which we see in Scene One, but it takes the hero an entire movie to figure out that, yeah, it is a Sort-of Giant Lake Squid. I was expecting there to be some twist, like maybe the giant-tentacled unseen monster is an alien from outer space. That’s no less stupid than a Lake Squid. I’d recommend skipping this movie. If you have to see one giant squid movie, then make it 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It still has not been topped.
In a rare display of female empowerment for these kinds of movies, while Dawson is down below looking at computers, the Deputy goes head to head with the squid. She hits the squid in the eyeball with an electrified harpoon, which zaps the crap out of it with some wimpy electricity effects. It’s about a 4 out of 10 on the scale of the Awesome Monster Kill-o-meter.