For hundreds of years, many fishermen have shared stories of a mythical shark seen off the Baja Coast. One creature had God-like proportions, driving men to the edge of insanity and causing them to see visions of death. Some people called this creature El Demonio Negro, and legend said it only appeared during a specific period. After the introduction, two people dive undersea near a giant oil rig and encounter something horrifying and unexplainable. As you may expect, something terrible and tragic occurs to the divers, turning the blue waters into something redder and bloodier.
Paul Sturges (Josh Lucas) is off taking some much-needed family time out with his wife and two children for the weekend. Paul supports his family by currently working for Nixon Oil. But sadly, Paul and his family are not having the dream vacation. While spending time with his family, Paul is also working and tasked with visiting a giant oil rig nearby to conduct various safety checks and other routine procedures. His family are joining him, giving them further opportunities to hang out. If the oil rig fails to pass Paul’s approval after all the checks, the rig could be decommissioned permanently.
Paul is soon disappointed to find that the entire community near the oil rig has become rundown and possibly no longer safe. Community members speak of a demon that lurks around the island. While his family stays in an eatery, Paul journeys to the oil rig to begin his inspection. Paul’s family soon arrives at the rig after having an altercation with members at the eatery. Suddenly, the oil rig is right in the hunting waters of a gigantic megalodon. Now Paul must work with a small group of survivors, including his wife and family, to stay alive and escape the rig.
The Black Demon may advertise like an exciting shark movie, but this film surprised me for all the wrong reasons. For positives, I’ll gladly point out that the location and setting for the film are excellent and fitting, including the large oil rig in the middle of the sea. The oil rig is a great setting for our leads to be stranded on, but it’s also quite large and allows plenty of opportunity for our leads to try and survive the giant megalodon attack.
As for the story, it’s weak and dull, with lots of babble and unnecessary dialogue bogging it down. Some examples relate to deep discussions about superstitions, sacrifices, ancient gods, the environment, and urban myths. There’s too much talking here and not enough Megalodon content. Despite the frustrating writing and deeply unfitting, unnatural dialogue, performances here are below passable. Characters seem either emotionless or disinterested, and conversations lack realism and energy. When the megalodon is first introduced (and it’s a superb introduction), I was saddened to see how the main characters remained calm and relaxed given what they witnessed and experienced first-hand. There is no reason for viewers to invest in the characters solidly, and the film doesn’t even try to raise heartbeats or provide any scares. At most points, it is more interested in preaching to audiences, particularly about the environment. The score is forgettable and provides a mix of ritual drumming and unfitting, epic music.
Overall, worse than the below-mediocre performances is the awful dialogue that needed more energy, emotion, and realism. Seeking a high-octane action film with a killer megalodon conducting ruthless kills? Well, you won’t find anything like that here. The Black Demon focuses more on characters talking and preaching to their audience rather than elevating a more potent substance. The chit-chat about ancient gods, the environment, superstitions and sacrifices quickly becomes tedious and painful. The giant Megalodon roaming around an oil rig seems to enjoy staying hidden for most of the runtime, leaving uninteresting and emotionless leads to carry the entire movie. It’s a disastrous and sad mess.
The Black Demon (2023) is Available in Australian Cinemas from June 8th!