Eye of the Beast (2007)
By: Craig Villinger on April 4, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Paramount (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 86 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Gary Yates
Starring: James Van Der Beek, Alexandra Castillo, Arne MacPherson, Ryan Black, Kyra Harper
Screenplay: Mark Mullin
Country: USA
After battling rampaging kiddies in The Plague and his own personal demons in Final Draft, former rising star James Van Der Beek takes another detour into low budget horror territory to tackle his stinkiest antagonist yet – a giant squid! Fire up the barbie.

In this latest entry in the nature-run-amok cycle from the good folks at The Sci-Fi Channel, Van Der Beek plays a marine biologist who has been sent to a struggling fishing community to figure out why the piscine population isn't biting, only to find himself in the middle of a much more serious investigation when several townsfolk disappear in mysterious circumstances. According to local legend, a mutant squid might just be the culprit, and, as the search for answers progresses – with advanced governmental investigative tools such as Google Image Search utilized - all clues do indeed point to a large multi-tentacled assailant. Eventually, after gaining the acceptance of the locals and trading flirts with a token love interest, The Beek is leading the charge as a group of brave fisherman hit the water posse style on a quest to slay the beast before it can continue making a mockery of the food chain. After all, man is supposed to eat seafood. It was never meant to be the other way around.

"From the depths of the ocean comes man's darkest fear" says the tagline on the cover. Well, if man's darkest fear is a boring creature feature with virtually no creature action, then welcome to your worst nightmare! To be fair, there's not a lot of incompetency on display in Eye of the Beast, and in fact, if I had settled in to watch a film about a small fishing community struggling to cope with a crippling recession, or an examination of how racial tensions can make good people do silly things, or a burgeoning romance between a strong willed yet misunderstood local woman and the handsome out-of-towner that has captured her attention, then I might've been a happy chappy after watching Eye of the Beast. Fact is though, I was there for no other reason than to see a giant squid attack and consume man sized snack treats, but for the the majority of Eye of the Beast's running time the squid was keeping a low profile.

Things actually got off to a promising start – a young couple, boozed up and uttering lines like "What was that noise?" are attacked by a single tentacle that obliterates their boat just as they were preparing to perform the mating ritual. The sight of this oversized appendage reaching out of the water to claim its victims was a sufficient tease and had me wanting more, but as the film progressed, and we had still seen nothing more than a teasing tentacle, even as the counter passed the 70 minute mark, I began to wonder if this movie was about a giant squid at all. Maybe it was about nothing more than a giant autonomous tentacle! Needless to say, by the time the creature did bother to poke its computer generated head above water to reveal the titular eye a full five seconds before biting the dust (an act which seemed rather stupid to be quite honest) it was a case of too little, too late.

A movie about a killer squid could have been a lot of fun had it been played with its tongue firmly in its cheek, but unfortunately Eye of the Beast fancies itself as a bit of a modern day Jaws and fails to deliver any sort of entertainment as it takes itself too seriously. The script is hopelessly clichéd, and occasional attempts to add some depth to the otherwise shallow story, such as a sub-plot involving racial tensions between the grumpy fisherman and the Native American population, make it feel even more trite as you just know the warring parties are going to put aside their differences and unite to take on their common enemy before the end credits roll. Van Der Beek and spunky co-star Alexandra Castillo do come off as a likeable duo, but the romantic tension between the two felt like yet another clichéd addition to an already cornball script that was simply going through the motions.

To put is simply, Eye of the Beast is one of the most uneventful creature features I have ever sat though, and aspiring filmmakers really should take note - if you are going to make a movie about a giant killer squid, please, for the love of Jeebus, show us the freakin squid every now and then!
Video
Eye of the Beast is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement, and as you would expect for such a recent production there isn't nothing to complain here. A solid visual presentation, but as this is a low budget made for cable flick that was most probably shot on HD it isn't exactly sharp enough to be described as reference quality.
Audio
Unfortunately we are only given a 2.0 audio track here, which doesn't sound too bad. A 5.1 channel presentation would have been preferable, but then again, el cheapo productions like this rarely utilize more than two or three channels anyway, so we probably aren't missing much.
Extra Features
Nothing, not even a trailer, or a few tasty calamari recipes.
The Verdict
There are a lot of things wrong with Eye of the Beast, including the fact that its title sounds like some sort of sleazy euphemism. Perhaps if Paramount had the civility to attach a budget price tag to vanilla b-movie releases like this we could be a little more forgiving, but when you can saunter into your local retailer and pick up fully stocked special editions of much better movies for a few dollars less it all seems a bit cheeky.

It's all fun and games… until someone watches Eye of the Beast! Don't bother folks. For a far more satisfying killer squid flick check out Steven Sommers' Deep Rising.
Movie Score
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