Studio: SyFy – The Asylum
Director: Don E. FauntLeRoy
Writer: Brook Durham
Producer: Ken Badish, Daniel Lewis, Angela Mancuso
Stars: Cassie Scerbo, Jonathan Lipnicki, Brandon Beemer, Kevin Dobson
A sea salvage operation disturbs a species of underwater creatures known as sea vampires, who attack in the dark while draining their victims of blood.
There are any number of reasons why a self-imposed moratorium on watching SyFy channel creature features might be a smart idea. The most obvious one of course is that the majority of them are not terribly enjoyable. But the more I watch these formulaic monster movies, the more I wonder if I’m losing my perspective on how to evaluate such made-for-cable messes objectively.
Are these movies all supposed to be middling efforts with cheesy effects and mediocre acting? What is the line separating a “who cares?” filmmaking attitude from intentional “so bad, it’s good” entertainment? I’m no longer certain if the bell curve for rating something like “Beast of the Bering Sea” should be aligned with “Godzilla,” “Sharknado,” or “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” What is it that an audience even wants/expects from SyFy monster movies nowadays anyhow?
Perhaps the best way to be impartial is to step back from too much personal opinion and simply break down the film in a matter of fact manner. That should make it easy enough for the reader to infer his/her own conclusion about the quality of the film.
Cast – The top billed stars are Cassie Scerbo, who by all accounts is best known for her role as Nova in “Sharknado,” and Jonathan Lipnicki of “the human head weighs eight pounds” fame. Others can conclude what they wish about the depth of that roster, but let’s just say that at least for the latter, this is a step backward from a Cameron Crowe-directed blockbuster starring Tom Cruise and leave it at that.
Dialogue – This snippet is spoken by Lipnicki’s character in a scene midway through the film: “Calm down man, just calm down. Just calm down, we don’t mean any harm. Just calm down. Just calm down. Calm down.” David Mamet definitely did not write this script. Why is this guy trying to sound like Kevin Spacey in “Glengarry Glen Ross?”
Effects – The “beast” in “Beast of the Bering Sea” resembles a stingray with the head of a Gorn from “Star Trek” covered in a black plastic garbage bag and then rendered with outdated CGI. That might not sound like an objective description, but it is.
Story – Here is a synopsis of “Poseidon Rex” (review here), another sea beast flick that previously aired on SyFy: While digging for gold underwater, a dive team inadvertently unleashes an undocumented species of sea creature. After the creature kills a rival crew of villainous gangsters, the heroes team with a female scientist to take down their amphibious enemy once and for all.
Now here is a “Beast of the Bering Sea” synopsis: While digging for gold underwater, a dive team inadvertently unleashes an undocumented species of sea creature. After the creature kills a rival crew of villainous gangsters, the heroes team with a female scientist to take down their amphibious enemy once and for all.
Yes, I did cut and paste that summary. No, it was not in error.
At this point I could go into the weird musical score, which at times has an 8-bit chiptunes echo resembling a song from a 1980’s Nintendo game. Or I could also mention the uneven directing that allows Lipnicki and Scerbo to overact while other performances bang into the opposite end of the spectrum. But then I’m right back to my initial dilemma of questioning if this is the movie hitting the low bar it aimed for, or if the filmmakers really did not know any better.
Depending on what its unstated intention might have been, (being either a throwaway time killer no more underwhelming than any similar film, or something with the loftier ambitions of a memorable movie,) “Beast of the Bering Sea” is either a home run dinger in a Little League ballpark, or a big time strikeout in a Major League stadium. Given that conflicting assessment, the only fair way to score the movie is to split it right down the middle at 50 out of 100 and call it a day. Besides, by this point you either know what you are in for with a SyFy Original produced by The Asylum, or you are doomed to be burned once for being the one who did not know any better.
NOTE: The film’s original title was “Bering Sea Beast.”
Review Score: 50