In order to create a successful creature feature you need two things. First, you need to create a tension that slowly builds to a pulse-pounding crescendo revealing your all too important second ingredient…the creature itself. Preferably one that is unique and downright creepy. Simple formula, right? There are far too many films out there that fail to utilize these two basic steps. Most either reveal the monster too soon or flat out fail to build that adequate tension required to make your viewer feel a sense of impending doom creeping in from the shadows. I knew from the opening scene that writer/director Scott Walker was headed down the right path with his latest project, The Tank.
It’s the late 70’s and Ben (Matt Whelan) along with his wife Jules (Luciane Buchanan) learn that they have inherited a mysterious property from Ben’s recently deceased mother. The couple, along with their young daughter head to the long-forgotten house, set in a picturesque cove along the Oregon coast. While repairing the property’s buried water tank, Ben inadvertently awakens a slumbering evil ready to fiercely protect its territory. When their daughter is taken by the creatures this mild-mannered couple has to dig deep for the courage to enter this monster’s domain and rescue Reia.
This film utilizes some of the more well-known horror tropes extremely well. Creepy old isolated house left to you by a deceased loved one? Check. Dark, claustrophobic underground chamber hiding secrets? Check. Creepy sounds in the dead of the night? Check. Walker was able to pull all these together to create a genuinely tense, scary movie. With the majority of the story taking place over a few days interspersed with flashbacks to the 1940’s this film takes its time to build that impending doom before revealing the source of those late night scratches and moans and boy was it worth it. The way the filmmaker handled the introduction of the creature was the way it should be done, never revealing too much until absolutely necessary. Tapping Academy Award winning special effects supervisor/creative director Richard Taylor and his team at Peter Jackson’s VFX studio Weta Workshop they were able to create a creature with almost an uncanny valley vibe. I couldn’t imagine a scarier thing than investigating the shadows to find the source of the clicks, pops and moans only to have an adult-sized salamander creature with vaguely human-looking characteristics chasing you down.
The cinematography was excellent, the story was solid and the practical effects were impressive. All come together to create an enjoyable, fear-inducing experience. From the loving family slowly realizing they’re not alone out in the middle of nowhere to the bloodthirsty creature lurking in the shadowy depths of the underground tank, this film has the look and feel of what you want out of a slow burn creature feature while delivering the blood-filled horror you crave. If you’re a genre fan then definitely search this one out.
The Tank is in theaters now and will arrive on VOD on the 25th.