The Black Demon Review

Arrow in the Head reviews the shark thriller The Black Demon, starring Josh Lucas and directed by Adrian Grunberg

PLOT: When a leaky oil rig awakens a vengeful god in the form of a megalodon shark, an oil man is trapped on the rig with his family and the surviving workers.

REVIEW: There are a whole lot of shark thrillers out there, but not many of them have a supernatural edge. That makes director Adrian Grunberg’s The Black Demon stand out from the pack a bit, because while the shark in this thriller is described as being a megalodon, like the sharks in The Meg and Shark Attack 3 and probably plenty of others, this isn’t just a megalodon that has resurfaced from the prehistoric age. This movie, which has marketing material that informs that it’s “based on the Mexican legend”, presents us with a giant shark that is actually a vengeful god, awakened by the pollution that has been spilled in its waters, and is able to do more than just swim around and bite people. This shark god has the ability to give people trippy visions right before it strikes. The text and narration that opens the film tells us the shark is capable of “driving people to the brink of insanity with visions of death” … but the “tripping victim” scenes never actually go that far.

Written by Carlos Cisco and Boise Esquerra, The Black Demon centers on American oil man Paul Sturges (played by Josh Lucas), who has come down to the Mexican town of Bahia Azul to check on an oil rig that sits off the coast and decide whether or not it should be decommissioned. It definitely should be, because it’s leaking oil into the ocean at an insane rate, which is what has awakened the titular shark god. Paul has come to Mexico with his wife Ines (Fernanda Urrejola) and their young children Audrey (Venus Ariel) and Tommy (Carlos Solórzano), with the idea being that they’ll hang out on land while he goes to the rig. But circumstances force Ines, Audrey, and Tommy to follow Paul out there – and it’s when they’re arriving at the rig that Paul realizes there’s a megalodon in these waters. A megalodon that has whittled the number of rig workers down to just two: Chato (Julio Cesar Cedillo) and Junior (Jorge A. Jimenez). Now Paul, Ines, Audrey, Tommy, Chato, and Junior have to figure out how to escape from this shark god and make their way back to land – and watching over their efforts is Chato’s adorable little dog. Members of the Sturges family can be quite irritating at times, so Chato and that dog come off as the best characters in the movie.

The Black Demon review

A shark thriller starring Josh Lucas and helmed by the director of Rambo: Last Blood (I’m one of the apparently few fans of that movie) sounded like an awesome idea to me – but the execution of the scenario is lacking. There are moments when The Black Demon comes off as very cheesy, even due to some of the blocking and editing, but especially due to some of the dialogue. Like this exchange between Paul and Chato, which we’re treated to when Paul first sees the size of the shark: “Jesus Christ!” “No. The Black Demon.”

The problem is, if The Black Demon was going to have moments that are so cheesy, it should have leaned further into that cheesiness and been sillier overall. But it is dead serious most of the time, so any cheesiness seems to have been unintentional. Which means viewers are going to be laughing at the movie instead of with it. We’re supposed to take this all seriously. We’re supposed to be creeped out. But there’s some goofy stuff in here that trips the movie up – with another one of the standout goofy moments being the editing in the scene where Paul discusses the (lack of) environmental safety practices of the oil company he works for. Suddenly I was having flashbacks to Steven Seagal’s monologue from the end of his 1994 “environmental action movie” On Deadly Ground. The commentary isn’t the issue, it’s the clunky filmmaking.

The Black Demon review

As far as shark thrillers go, The Black Demon is middle-of-the-road entertainment. There are better shark thrillers out there (everyone knows Jaws; some of the music in The Black Demon is even clearly Jaws-inspired), but they also get a lot worse than this. So if you’ve seen enough of the lesser ones, The Black Demon is good enough to make you shrug and say, “It’s okay.” I was disappointed that it wasn’t better than it was, but I didn’t have a bad time watching it.

Go in with low expectations and you might find that The Black Demon is a decent way to kill 100 minutes. But be prepared to laugh at several moments that are unintentionally cheeseball.

The Avenue is giving The Black Demon a theatrical release on April 28th.

Arrow in the Head reviews the shark thriller The Black Demon, starring Josh Lucas and directed by Adrian Grunberg

Adrian Grunberg



Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.