JUNE 8, 2009
There have been so many horror movies featuring a water-dwelling monster that Boxofficemojo actually has a chart for it so someone can find/compare them all. Looking over at it, few of them are particularly successful (the ones that are tend to be shark-based: Jaws, Deep Blue Sea, Open Water), so you gotta wonder why folks keep churning em out, especially as they are all so goddamn similar to boot. Even though I had never seen Razortooth before, it sure felt as I did, because screenwriters Jack Monroe and Matt Holly wholeheartedly refused to work outside of the inherently narrow formula.
So, do we have an easy-going, handsome law-enforcement type as the hero? Check. An old flame helping him out? Check. A “hunter” with an accent? Oh my, check. Will a random, innocuous object play a role in the monster’s demise? You better believe it. The closest thing that the movie comes to originality is that in addition to stealing from Jaws, Lake Placid, etc, it also steals from, of all movies, Evolution, right down to the two young slacker characters who provide the item that can weaken the monster (though, in the film’s best moment, the scientific explanation doesn’t actually work, so they merely blow the goddamn thing up. Fuck you, science!).
But it’s a minor notch above say, Lake Placid 2 or Loch Ness Terror as these things go. The effects are as terrible as ever, but the monster’s design is kind of goofy anyway, so it sort of fits. And it certainly doesn’t skimp on the body count; this has one of the highest death tolls I can recall in a water monster movie (maybe Deep Rising has more because the monster ate everyone on a cruise ship, but that doesn’t really count as it was mainly off-screen). Most of the attacks are the same (and inexplicably inside; there are two bathroom set kills for Christ’s sake), but there are a few great gore gags, and at least one sweet moment where the monster pulls a Michael Myers, fading in (and back out) in the darkness behind a character. Then he eats her.
It would be even better if the acting wasn’t so godawful, with a truly annoying lead to boot. Doug Swander clearly wants to be Nathan Fillion, but has none of Fillion’s inherent charm or acting skills. And he plays a fucking harmonica almost non-stop in the film’s first act (I actually suspected it would help weaken the monster, like it couldn’t stand the harmonica’s sound frequency or something). The writing is equally abysmal; particularly in the scenes surrounding the “love triangle” between three of the younger characters (fuck learning their names, there like 20 full blown characters in this movie in addition to all of the bit players). The girl likes books, the guys like football, she teases them and they go “aw shucks”, and no one questions why two jocks would be interested in a mousy girl in the first place. Also, back to the hero, they set up a sort of Abyss (or, more likely, Piranha II) thing where he has to work with his “tough” ex-wife, but instead of growing closer as the film progresses, they hop into bed together around the 20 minute mark, which makes me wonder why the divorce angle was even introduced in the first place.
However, one of the characters actually calls another a “Gaylord”, which I haven’t heard outside of a schoolyard in at least 20 years (editor’s note - does this mean you’ve been INSIDE of a schoolyard in the recent past?), so props to that. Also, the ending is kind of a downer, as several kids of about 14 are eaten (off-screen, sadly), as is the father who has been trying to rescue his son (one of the kids) for the whole movie. Monroe and/or Holly clearly have some issues.
Here’s what I don’t get about all of these movies though: they are all clearly influenced by Jaws, yet despite the uniformly terrible effects, no one ever uses Spielberg’s method of hiding the damn thing from the audience for the first half or so. Hell, Razortooth is seen in full before we even meet any of our main characters! You’d think at least one guy on the crew would be like “Hey... the monster kind of looks like shit. Maybe we shouldn’t show it so much?”
The DVD offers us a making of that has special effects on par with that of the monster (and terrible audio as well - did they record this goddamn thing in a bathroom?), plus a “music video” which mixes clips of the movie with the singers (actually the two lead actors - the harmonica strikes again!) recording their vocals in a booth. Riveting.
What say you?