From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“After mysteriously inheriting an abandoned coastal property, Ben and his family accidentally unleash an ancient, long-dormant creature that terrorized the entire region – including his own ancestors – for generations.”
Sadly, there’s just not enough to digest with The Tank.
For a monster movie, it’s fairly lean in the mechanics department, meaning that there isn’t a lot of background and/or lore that needs to be grasped by viewers in order to understand what’s going on here. Essentially, some earthquake from a few centuries back opened up the Earth, and – according to the Native American Indians of the 1700’s – something cursed emerged, forcing this tribe off in search of greener pastures. As you can guess, the silly ol’ white men didn’t quite catch the hint, moved in, and built their own houses on the land, leaving these settlers to be reduced to little more than dead men walking once these supposed reptiles crawled back home for supper time.
So, functionally, yes, The Tank is lean, but at an incredible 100 minutes it suffers from a nasty bloat.
Its characters – the somewhat nuclear family of Ben (played by Matt Whelan), Jules (Luciane Buchanan), and their daughter Reia (Zara Nausbaum) – are drawn into this miasma of existential dread when, to their surprise, Ben inherits a coastal property he had no idea his deceased parents had ever owned. As hidden treasure do shimmer at first blush, the cottage looks to be an almost idyllic and pastoral escape for the trio who’ve fallen on hard financial times – the promise of a quick sale could very well be an answer to their prayers – but it’s for tales like this that some wise man or woman once said, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” Before they know it, yes, they’ve all been bitten by what looks to be a previously undocumented species of reptile, and they’re racing against time to get out before desert is served.
As professional players swept up in the danger of a relatively conventional monster movie, Whelan, Buchanan, and Nausbaum all perform about as well as could be expected: they stare terrified into the camera lenses whenever its required, and they muster the right amount of courage to demonstrate that family comes first even if one’s about to be chowed down upon. The chief problem they all suffer from involves writer/director Scott Walker’s tenuous grasp on characterization: each of them is smart until the script needs them to be dumb – as in the case of going into the film’s seminal water tank or the dark of night with nothing to protect oneself and/or forgetting that your day job in the story’s set-up required they have some knowledge of dealing with predators (they operate an exotic pet store). Horror films are notorious for exploiting players to the point of near-ridiculousness, and The Tank hits that sweet spot time and time again … up to the point of leaving the car windows down when you’re trying to make your great escape.
Unfortunately, Walker’s script doesn’t stop there. To his credit, his script shows that Ben’s dead mother – the one we’ve been told everyone thought was off-her-rocker – also suffered from a lack of gray matter. In the distant past – when she found herself trapped in the exact same predicament her son and his family do now – she specifically tore out and left the pages of her personal journal in that very room so that so – once it was really too late for anyone to do anything with her seemingly prophetic written warning – at least they’d find those missing sheets and know that maybe – just maybe – mom had it together in the Brain Department after all. Well, if she did, then why leave them inside a locked room? Why not, say, tape them to the damn front door with nothing other than the words “Stay Out”?
On the plus side, I did enjoy the monsters.
Mind you, they didn’t make much sense, as these eyeless creatures are somehow frightened by bright lights at one point (???); but crawling around the way they do on all fours they give the hint of being some bizarre alligator-style mutation. Practically creature effects – as opposed to pixelated CGI creations – are just so much scarier because they can share the screen with authentic human beings, which only serves to ramp up the fright and tension. While they look great on film and do fit the bill of something fresh and different for viewers who like that sort of thing, we still saw too much of them a little too late in this overlong escapade to make them truly memorable.
The Tank (2023) was produced by Ajax Pictures, General Film Corporation, Happy Dog Entertainment, and Ingenious Media. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated via the good people at Well Go USA Entertainment. As for the technical specifications? While I’m no trained video expert, I thought the overwhelming majority of the sights and sounds for this particular creature feature were exceptional from start-to-finish. Lastly, if you’re looking for special features? According to the product packaging, the disc boasts two shorts – “A Look Into The Tank” and “Making The Creature” – along with the film’s theatrical trailer.
Pacing and script issues aside, The Tank (2023) still remains a bit too long for its own good. The longer an audience has to wait to both see the seminal monster and be welcomed fully into all of its mythology, then the bigger the payoff their patience should be rewarded … and that’s just not the case here. In fact, there’s even a post-credit scene (for those who stick around and catch it) which promises to move all of the action forward into the mid-1990’s … which only begs the question as to whether or not storytellers plan on yet another outing (Part 3) to (finally) bring this all-new species of hungry hungry hippos into modern day. Maybe – just maybe – the creative folks have bitten off more than they could chew!
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Well Go USA Entertainment provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray of The Tank by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.