Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nevermore Flashback: El Monstro Del Mar (2010)

Nevermore 2012 is just a couple days away, so I've decided to post some old reviews of films that I saw there last year. Stay tuned for reviews and info from this year's fest later on in February!

El Monstro Del Mar might not completely value style over substance, but there’s a lot of style here and sometimes it’s so thick that it obscures the rest of the film. Initially trying to invoke memories of Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, the film quickly moves on to generic exploitation references that feel like Tarantino at his worst. Just when it starts to get its own footing, it breaks into a full-fledged horror sequence that's most reminiscent of the tentacled monsters in The Deadly Spawn. There are just so many different things going on here that it’s hard to get a sense for what this movie is trying to do other than seem cool by association. (And why is the title in Spanish? This is an Aussie flick. I never quite figured that one out - please enlighten me if you know the answer.)

If you’re looking to just kick back and enjoy a cocktail of trash, then this film does delivers. In the beginning, we’re introduced to three murderous girls who kill for apparently no reason other than that it’s a cheap thrill. They end up crashing at a small seaside town where a prudish old man and his granddaughter live, seduce the granddaughter into a drug and alcohol fueled festival of debauchery, and eventually manage to wake an ancient monster that lives underneath the sea. The ending is worth talking about, because it boasts one of the most insane monster-attacks I've seen in a while. After waking the kraken, the girls and grandpa get trapped in a small shack and have to fend off a ton of bloodthirsty razor-toothed tentacles. This scene is done mostly with a mixture of practical and green-screen effects, and against all odds, it works! It's really too bad that this scene isn't sufficiently built up to within the bulk of the film. But by god, once it gets going, it's a lot of fun.

In the end though, the enjoyable bits aren't quite worth the slog. This is by no means a long film, but after about half an hour, it feels like it’s stalling until the end. The music is good, there are some unexpectedly surreal sequences, and plenty of little entertaining bits, but the film never breaks off and establishes its own tone. Although pretty light-hearted (in the sick sort of way the best trash films are), it never seems too tongue-in-cheek, which I appreciated. I really think the filmmakers were trying to give genuine homage to some of their favorite films. I just would have liked to see a little more of their personal style shine through.

5/10 = Hit and miss, with a few great scenes.

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