JULY 16, 2009
I often wonder if the other customers at Blockbuster think I am insane or mentally disabled when I pick up a film like Hydra off the shelf, look at the cover, and cackle to myself as I walk up to the front of the store without even bothering to look at the back. Or if I’m feeling cocky that day, I wonder if they realize I’m the Horror Movie A Day guy and are like “Oh nice, I know what today’s movie will be!”
(Yeah that never has or will happen. Let me dream, damn you.)
Anyway, I laugh because I assume it will be awful, but I gotta say, Hydra ain’t all that bad. Unlike the usual group of commandos or scientists who can turn into commandos when necessary, the humans in this one are hunters or hunted, as the non-monster part of the story is essentially a "Most Dangerous Game" retread. Have you ever watched Surviving The Game or Hard Target and thought “Yes, fine, but you know what would really make this movie great? Mythological creatures!”? The makers behind Hydra clearly did.
Now, nothing about this movie will win any awards. The acting is actually fairly sub-par across the board (even Texas Battle, who was fine in Wrong Turn 2, seems a bit stiff), the music is atrocious (it reminded me of what the score for a crappy late 70s or early 80s James Bond ripoff TV show would sound like), and it gets a bit repetitive at times. But my usual enjoyment of the MDG story allowed me to forgive it its trespasses and more or less have a good time with it.
And to give it some genuine praise, the effects are above average for these things. The compositing is, as always, a problem, but the thing seems to be the same size regardless of the scene/shot, the design on it is quite good (lot of detail on its body, it moves around fairly naturally, etc), and the death scenes are so damn bloody you won’t even notice that it’s not interacting properly with the actor. Man, EVERYONE gets it good in this movie. No off camera shit, no scream into the camera and cut away, nope - folks get torn asunder, devoured in chunks (one Hydra head will eat the guy’s head, then another will eat its torso, then another will eat his legs), gored... hell yeah. Director Andrew Prendergast thankfully understands what so many other DTV directors do not - we don’t rent these things for long-winded exposition about how the monster came to be, or lengthy backstories for the characters, or any of that crap. We want a monster, and we want that monster to kill as many people in the cast as it can. Hydra boasts a healthy body count of around 14, and while a couple are killed by other humans and merely shot, most of the deaths are via the titular monster. Thank you.
One thing about the backstories, what little they give us is needlessly awkward. In order to keep anyone from being too black and white BAD, we find out that the hunters have all had some sort of tragedy in their lives; one’s wife was killed by a drunk driver, another’s daughter was raped and killed, etc. So the entrepreneur guy who brings them all to the island (the hunters pay him to find “sport” and an island to hunt them on) finds people that were convicted of similar crimes, giving the hunters a motive to kill them. Seems like a lot of work, and I’m not sure how killing a guy who did something similar that some other guy did to you would help. Sort of like Bush going after Saddam for 9/11 instead of going after Osama, I guess. And one of the guys was merely brought to the island because the captain of the boat hated him and wanted to see him suffer, so I guess one of the hunters wouldn’t get his proxy vengeance even if the Hydra hadn’t shown up to kill the living fuck out of all of them regardless of what they did in the past.
Speaking of the captain, he’s actually the biggest human villain. You expect this character to develop a conscience and refuse to aid the hunters or whatever, but instead it’s the other way around. The entrepreneur guy decides to pull everyone off the island and give them a refund, but the captain won’t let him. Again, everyone’s kind of in a gray area in this movie, which I liked.
One thing I didn’t like is the volcano aspect. There’s a big volcano on the island and it’s about to blow for the whole movie, so you think it will blow and the lava will kill the Hydra, or blow as the humans try to make their escape and maybe kill one of the remaining bad guys, but nope. It never goes off. And the shots of it probably cost a few bucks of the FX budget, and that could have gone into fixing the snake a bit, so I cry foul on this subplot.
On the flipside, the snake dies by the hand of our hero, instead of some damn lava. And the kill is AMAZING. Dudebro reaches into a model of a volcano (I dunno), pulls out a giant sword (just go with it) and begins hacking Hydra heads off left and right. And if you can’t get enough, don’t worry - it happens again in a 2nd ending. The Hydra is seemingly dead, and our heroes get back to the boat, but one of the heads grows a new body, gets onboard, and begins killing everyone there as well. A deckhand then throws the sword to the hero guy, who once again hacks away, killing it for good. And the icing on the cake - as it explodes into CGI dust and ash, the sword magically floats away with the particles. Yes! Even the shitty music here makes it kind of awesome, as it’s so cheesy and bombastic.
No extras on the DVD, but I kind of like that. Let Hydra speak for itself.
What say you?