The Movie Waffler New Release Review - THE TANK | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - THE TANK

The Tank review
A man gets a nasty surprise when he inherits a remote property from his estranged mother.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Scott Walker

Starring: Luciane Buchanan, Matt Whelan, Zara Nausbaum, Holly Shervey

The Tank poster

Whenever a movie's protagonist receives a surprise inheritance of some real estate with fixer-upper potential, there's always a catch. Said protagonist will usually uncover a few family secrets previously kept hidden, and the property will probably come with a ghost or two. The Tank ticks these boxes but switches out spooks for man-eating lizard creatures. That's where any originality ends though.

The Tank review

Presumably to avoid the horror storyteller's nemeses of cellphones and the internet, writer/director Scott Walker sets his film in 1978. It's also set in the US but the unconvincing accents betray it as a New Zealand production (that distinctive Kiwi tendency of ending every sentence as though it's a question is present throughout). Anyway, it's in this setting that we find married couple Ben (Matt Whelan) and Jules (Luciane Buchanan). Crippled by debt and unpaid bills, they're struggling to keep their California pet store afloat until Ben becomes the recipient of a classic surprise inheritance. Seems his estranged mum, who passed away six months prior, has left him an ocean front property on the Oregon coast.

Heading up the definitely not New Zealand coast with their young daughter Reia (Zara Nausbaum) and the family dog, Ben and Jules find a home that needs considerable work but boasts the sort of view that will make it easy to flog. Deciding to stick around and give it a spit and polish, they find some convenient expository newspaper clippings that reveal Ben's father and sister may not have died in a car accident as he had always believed.

The Tank review

But you're here for the monsters, not the family drama. Well, they arrive via the property's water tank. Left dormant for years, Ben gets it up and running again, and when he cuts himself and bleeds into the water, it attracts the lizards back to the property via a series of subterranean caves.

This being a New Zealand production, the creatures are of course designed by WETA. It's refreshing to see old school rubbery monsters in this era of Sharknado knockoffs and their awful CG, but the creature design is disappointingly generic. The lizards look like every monster that emerged in the wake of Alien, with the obligatory mouth that looks suspiciously genital.

The Tank review

The movie's limited cast means there's a lack of kills, with only the obligatory unlucky estate agent (one of the most cursed occupations in horror cinema) and an inept cop acting as fodder for the monsters. After much pleading with her hubby to get the hell out of dodge, Jules is left to defend her family in the climax. Despite dispatching an armed cop in seconds, the monsters are oddly ineffective against Jules, who seems to gain super powers as soon as she strips down to a tight white vest to take them on.

Taking place in the dark and underwater, the climactic scenes force the audience to squint, but we've seen it all before, right down to a laughably uninspired riff on the classic "Get away from her you bitch!" line. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that the dog never gets involved in the action. If you put a dog in a monster movie there has to be a scene where the plucky pooch squares up to the creature. Even Meg 2 understood that rule.

The Tank is on Shudder UK/ROI from November 10th.

2023 movie reviews