Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Adrian Grunberg
Cast: Josh Lucas, Fernanda Urrejola, Julio Cesar Cedellio
Runtime: 1 hr 41 mins
Rating:  PG13 (Some Disturbing Scenes)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 1 June 2023

Synopsis: Oilman Paul Sturges (Josh Lucas) takes his family to Bahia Negra, the site of Paul’s best-performing rig, but the vibrant Mexican coastal town he once knew has mysteriously crumbled as the townsfolk believe the rig has awoken a shark of legend, known as The Black Demon. With his family scared to be left alone, they arrive on the rig only to have their boat ferociously attacked by the massive black shark. Laying claim to the local waters aggressively protecting mother nature against human threats, it destroys everything in its path. Paul and his family are now stranded with the few men who have survived. Under constant attack by the giant monster and with time ticking away, Paul must find a way to get his family back to shore alive.

Movie Review:

Why anyone would think we need yet another shark movie is anybody’s guess, but just how anyone could end up making such a dull shark movie is the real mystery.

The title refers to the hulking beast that turns up out of the blue to attack an oil rig off the Baja coast, a megalodon which the locals call ‘El Demonio Negro’. Unfortunately for oil executive Paul Sturges (Josh Lucas), he is none the wiser before this latest trip to inspect his company’s rig, or else he might have chosen not to bring his wife Ines (Fernanda Urrejola) and kids Audrey (Venus Ariel) and Tommy (Carlos Solórzano) with him. Yet as fate would have it, Paul and his family will arrive at the Mexican fishing village to find its community in bad shape.

After an unnecessary detour, all four of them end up on the rig, only to find that there are but two crew left. One of the two survivors, Chato (veteran Mexican actor Julio Cesar Cedillo), explains how the local god Tlaloc was angered by the wanton environmental destruction the drilling activities wrought, with the ‘El Demonio Negro’ being a manifestation of his wrath. Though Paul is quick to dismiss it as pure superstitition, Ines believes that there is truth to the tale.

You can probably guess that there is a cautionary eco-message embedded here, but the treatment is ultimately so clumsy it comes off less sobering than silly. For one, it sets off a whole chain of arguments with all sorts of over-acting by Lucas, first chiding Chato for scaring his family and then desperately trying to justify his actions to Ines when she finds out that he has known all along about the rig’s environmental violations. For another, there is no sense of how to balance the drama with the action, not least because the latter grinds to a halt when the characters are busy arguing amongst themselves whether to give any credence to the folklore of Tlaloc’s wrath.

Whether because of budgetary reasons or otherwise, the titular demon is woefully underused. B-movie director Adrian Grunberg has done solid work on such movies like ‘Get the Gringo’ and ‘Rambo Last Blood’, but is here unable to muster even the bare requisite man-versus-shark set-pieces to justify the movie’s existence. It doesn’t help that the CGI megalodon is terrible, and looks even worse than the animatronic shark that Steven Spielberg had used back in 1978 for ‘Jaws’. No wonder then that the shark barely appears for the duration of the movie, though that ironically renders this movie even more pointless.

So for even those who cannot get enough of shark movies, ‘The Black Demon’ will hardly satisfy. There is too little shark, too much talking, and certainly not enough action. Granted that it tries to be an eco-thriller than just another generic shark movie, but all that goodwill about how being mindful of our actions on the environment falls flat amidst the contrived human drama and some woeful over-acting. Our advice? Wait for ‘The Meg 2’ later this summer – at least you’ll get some decent shark entertainment. 

Movie Rating:

(Whether as a shark movie or as an eco-thriller, 'The Black Demon' will leave you high and dry)

Review by Gabriel Chong 

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