Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Black Demon (2023)

Movie Name/Year: The Black Demon (2023)
Genre: Action
Length: 1h 40min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: The Avenue
Director: Adrian Grünberg
Writer: Boise Esquerra, Carlos Cisco
Actors: Josh Lucas, Fernanda Urrejola, Julio César Cedillo
Blurb: Josh Lucas (Ford v Ferrari, Yellowstone) stars in this edge-of-your-seat action thriller from the director of Rambo: Last Blood. Oilman Paul Sturges' (Lucas) idyllic family vacation turns into a nightmare when they encounter a ferocious megalodon shark that will stop at nothing to protect its territory. Stranded and under constant attack, Paul and his family must somehow find a way to get his family back to shore alive before it strikes again in this epic battle between humans and nature

Selina’s Point of View:
There is very little that I love more than a good creature feature. In fact, the only thing I devour more readily is mythology and folklore. Both my favorites cross paths with The Black Demon. I knew the moment I saw the trailer that I had to see the film.
When we watched the trailer on our monthly stream, I remarked that I thought the shark CGI was well done. Now that I’ve seen the full feature, I think I was right. Although there was one scene where I thought it looked a little janky, it was only a few seconds long. Most of the time, the graphics were on point.
For the majority of The Black Demon, the megalodon is just on the edge of perception. Aside from a couple of attack scenes, it’s only a ghost under the waves. A shape on the horizon. Honestly, that’s the best way to go about something like this. If you go back to the GOAT of shark movies, Jaws (1975), it does the same thing, but with lesser technology. Giving the fear and tension of the shark without having it constantly shown keeps viewers from being numb to it when it really matters.
When the entire shark is finally seen, the scale of it is incredible – and the CGI holds up enough to be scary.
Something else that’s often associated with creature features is campy acting.

Josh Lucas (Ford v Ferrari, Sweet Home Alabama, Yellowstone) covered that base. I wasn’t in love with the way he played the main character Paul Sturges. He over did it in some scenes while not quite reacting enough in others. He always felt just a bit off. That’s where my complaints end, though. Fernanda Urrejola managed to give a believable performance across from him, while the children, Venus Ariel (Exposed, DMZ, NCIS: New Orleans) and Carlos Solórzano (Yoga Friends, The Resident, Flamin’ Hot), also kept me engaged.
My favorite, though, was Julio Cesar Cedillo (Cowboys & Aliens, Sicario, Chupa). Every time Cedillo was on screen, he owned the movie. He became his character completely. There was absolutely no flaw in his performance. I couldn’t find one if I tried.
I enjoyed The Black Demon. The way the folklore of the creature crossed with the message of environmental issues worked. It might not have been a perfect film, but it was entertaining.
I think it’s worth a ticket if you’re looking for a night at the movies. You can see it exclusively in theaters, April 28.

Cat’s Point of View:
I am pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before but, I am a sucker for shark movies. I have been absolutely fascinated by the toothsome terrors of the sea ever since my dad brought home some shark teeth for me from a job site he was working on when I was roughly in 3rd grade. Some of those were megalodon teeth. I was hooked.
Now I won’t say that I enjoy every shark movie out there - but if the shark even looks decently realistic, then they’ve got a good shot at holding my attention.
The trailer for The Black Demon gave me hope that this was going to be a shark movie done right. I am happy to report that it was generally successful in that regard.
The focus of The Black Demon is primarily on the family’s journey through various difficult situations. The shark was an ever-present threat that forced them to face things head-on. I really appreciated that the focus wasn’t all on a horrible killer shark - but on the people and the environment. The legendary creature got little screen time, but when it did it was very effective. The shadow play pitting the humans against the vehicle for nature’s vengeance was something I rather enjoyed.

Of course, there were some spectacular shots of the shark that sent shivers right through me.
This production really hit home for me, considering the story was set on an offshore oil rig and focused on the toll it had taken on the environment and people that lived nearby. Oil drilling is a hot topic in my state - both for environmental impact and economic reasons. Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico provides a lot to Louisiana’s economy. Yet, at the same time, it has been the source of great environmental disasters - such as the BP Deepwater Horizon incident of 2010.
The Black Demon, however, wasn’t set in the Gulf of Mexico but, presumably, in the Gulf of California - otherwise known as the Sea of Cortez. That happens to be where the legend of the demon shark hails from. There was even an episode of the cryptid-hunting show Monsterquest (2007-) titled Mega Jaws (2009) that focused on this particularly elusive shark.
The acting was also solid, and Fernanda Urrejola and Josh Lucas had great on-screen chemistry. Some moments felt a little over-the-top, but when you’re being hunted by a massive shark, I would imagine some melodramatic behavior might be warranted.
I enjoyed The Black Demon more than I thought I might - despite a couple of plot holes here and there. This is one shark film that I wouldn’t mind watching again in the future.

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 3.5/5
Movie Trailer:

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