Its the little things that thrive in Scott Walker’s creature feature the The Tank. Well, the little things in addition to slimy earthquake-born lizards, who also seem to do pretty well for themselves.
After the passing of his mother, Ben (Matt Whelan) and his wife Jules (Luciane Buchanan) learn he has inherited a previously unknown property along the Pacific coast. The real estate comes as a welcome surprise for the financially struggling couple and their young daughter, as they attempt to save money for Jules to complete veterinary school.
“The Tank makes hay with its use of environment, some nifty camera work, and some good ol’ fashioned practical monsters.”
Ben questions why he never knew of the property, though he’s not surprised as his mother struggled with mental illness for most of his life. The family travels to the acreage and are astounded with its beautiful views of the Pacific coastline, almost making up for the dilapidated condition of the cottage.
After Ben re-engages a large underground water tank near the house, the good feelings quickly turn to pure fear. Jules investigates a dead eel-like creature found in the tank, determining it may be the larvae of an undiscovered species. Not long after, a monstrous lizard-like creature begins to terrorize the family. Amidst secrets of his mother’s past, including the mysterious deaths of his father and sister, Ben and Jules fight to protect their daughter and leave the coastline before it’s too late.
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The Tank supplies relatively typical monster movie fare for horror fans. The overall plot is fairly simple, though it does dip its toes into a more compelling storyline involving Ben‘s family history. Some of the bigger reveals and dialogue come off a bit clunky at times, even though Buchanan and Whelan deliver compelling performances. While the script may leave viewers wishing there was more meat on the bone to chew, other elements of the movie step up their game to make up for it. Thriving on its gloomy Pacific Northwest setting, The Tank makes hay with its use of environment, some nifty camera work, and some good ol’ fashioned practical monsters.
The smaller plot details and editing choices interwoven into The Tank provide a welcome touch to the monster flick. Mentioned offhandedly is the actual Cascadia earthquake of 1700, used as the event that unleashed the salamander-like star beasts of the film. For those nonvested in ancient ground shakes, the estimated 9.2 magnitude earthquake is only known to us now due to tsunami records in Japan and dead trees in the “ghost forests” of Oregon.
This mysterious world event provides a solid grounding for the fictional monsters to exist. Dropped mid-film to foreshadow the slimy beasts’ appearance is a home fixer-upper montage featuring the song “California Shake” by Margo Guryan. The spooky banger of a track blends in flawlessly with the shots of the abandoned cottage and gloomy grey Pacific coastline.
We are only given glimpses of the lizard like monsters of The Tank early on, a staple move found in creature features. The first real good look we get comes via a very cool shot, a slow camera pan to a distant window. Its examples like this, found throughout the film, that put on display director Scott Walker’s eye for atmospheric horror.
It was only after my viewing that I learned of cinematographer Aaron Morton’s involvement as well. Known for Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead (2013), it was an interesting experience to think back and identify the parallels in cinematography of each film. While very different movies, both execute a professional job of conveying dread through atmosphere and eye catching camera work.
While the script could have used some reinforcements, I can’t question the talented crew behind The Tank. If you’re into dreary atmospheric horror like I am, this one might just scratch that itch. As for practical effect monsters? ALWAYS the correct choice. Always and forever.
“The smaller plot details and editing choices interwoven into The Tank provide a welcome touch to the monster flick.”
Dive into Scott Walker’s The Tank in select theatres April 21st and on VOD April 25th. Let us know what you thought of this atmospheric creature feature over on Twitter or in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord! Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.
[Review] A Struggling Family Discovers A Mysterious Monster in Atmospheric Creature Feature THE TANK
While the script could have used some reinforcements, I can't question the talented crew behind The Tank. If you're into dreary atmospheric horror like I am, this one might just scratch that itch. As for practical effect monsters? ALWAYS the correct choice. Always and forever.