B film though it may be, Canadian movie Eye of the Beast turned out to be pretty decent with some actual thought and talent going into the making of it. What is most surprising about this is the fact that it was made for Syfy at the time and movies that appear on that particular channel, those original films produced specifically for them, are not exactly known to have the highest of budgets. So it is when watching this film that one wonders what happened here to differentiate this picture from all of the other chaff that regularly appears on that aforementioned network, other than money that is. Whatever the answer might be, it was a nice change of pace to see something with a beginning, middle and end that made sense with a good script and actors that knew what they were doing.
The story concerns a usually quiet lake that has recently erupted into chaos due to the presence of a giant squid. How that giant squid ended up in the lake in the first place is a mystery, but what now has to happen is its extinction if the people who live and work the lake for their livelihood are to survive. Helping them in this endeavor is a scientist who was once a boy from Dawson’s Creek, the one and only – James Van Der Beek.
What works really well in this movie is the fact that for the most part, the creature is kept under wraps – much like horror films from the thirties and forties used to do when budget restraints precluded them from having an on-screen monster. Unlike other features that would soon follow showing CGI monstrosities that looked as terrible as could possibly be, director Gary Yates held back his creature as long as possible and it worked perfectly. With each minor appearance of a tentacle or two, Yates built up the suspense and the horror of the situation naturally and it made the audience feel invested in what was going to happen come the end of it all. While there is some tension and suspense to be found, that does not mean that it is all that exciting because for the most part, it does plod along when it is not dealing with the monster in question. Much of that time when not focusing upon the monster is given to character development and while not necessarily a bad thing, it spends just a wee bit too much time doing so and almost gets to the point of breaking what it has been building towards when the monster finally reappears once again. Thankfully things do pick up during the second half and rewards the viewer with an ending that actually satisfies.
Though it is a rarity, sometimes those films one watches on the Syfy channel can surprise and Eye of the Beast happens to be one of them.
3 out of 5