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What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Welcome to the darker side of AICN! Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column.

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On with the horror reviews!

(Click title to go directly to the feature)

Retro-review: THE CRUSH (1993)
Retro-review: LURKING FEAR (1994)
Retro-review: MASSACRE UP NORTH (2001)
CLOWN (2014)

Retro-review: New this week on BluRay from The Shout Factory!

THE CRUSH (1993)

Directed by Alan Shapiro
Written by Alan Shapiro
Starring Cary Elwes, Alicia Silverstone, Jennifer Rubin, Kurtwood Smith, Amber Benson, Gwynyth Walsh, Matthew Walker, Deborah Hancock, Beverley Elliott, Andrew Airlie, Sheila Paterson, Brent Chapman, Betty Phillips
Retro-reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

While not exactly scary, THE CRUSH does go into some disturbing territory for an 90’s thriller.

Generic nice guy writer Nick Eliot (Cary Elwes) moves into the guest house of a wealthy family in a well to do neighborhood only to find himself in the sights of their extremely intelligent and even more obsessive daughter Adrian (Alicia Silverstone). Adrian’s flirtings start out harmless, but when Nick spurns her advances, her obsession turns deadly.

While this isn’t a film spattered with gore, it is a very disturbing film as it really does present a somewhat believable scenario where one determined person can ruin the life of another, especially when one of them is a not-so-smart man and the other is a doe-eyed young woman with a mean streak. Nick falls into Adrian’s web pretty easily and, as a red-blooded American male, finds himself attracted to her when she prances around in a bikini and undresses in front of him. To quote the great urinator R. Kelly, “his mind is telling him no, but his body…his body’s tellin’ him yes!” After he bone-headedly agrees to leave a party with Adrian, he plants a smooch on her, but this ends up being the kiss of death, as Adrian becomes jealous when Nick begins a relationship with his coworker (another no-no, but I guess that’s fodder for another film). Soon, Nick finds his job, his relationship, and his life in danger as Adrian’s obsession intensifies. I was surprised at the levels this film plunges in terms of exploring the concepts of underage relationships and statutory rape. Adrian even goes so far at to plant semen inside of her and accusing Nick of raping her. This is some ballsy subject matter.

THE CRUSH is a film I doubt would be made today what with people being so sensitive about everything. It serves as a precautionary tale to all men about the dangers of a flirtatious woman and does so in a way that will definitely make your skin crawl. There are scenes when you just want to smack Nick for making stupid decisions like sneaking into Adrian’s room and hiding in her closet so he isn’t caught. On the one hand, it’s ballsy for Elwes to play this role as a man who honestly has feelings for an underage girl, but on the other hand, he is probably one of the more stupider protagonists you’re going to ever see.

THE CRUSH is entertaining in a creepy and pervy way only films in the eighties and nineties could get away with. Alicia Silverstone is strong in the role, less so as the seductress, but spot on as the psycho bent on getting Nick by any means necessary. And while she is less than sensual in her performance, director Alan Shapiro lecherously lingers on her body numerous times in the film and puts her in the famous LOLITA pose just to drive the message of the film home. THE CRUSH also has a few fun supporting roles by ROBOCOP’s Kurtwood Smith as Adiran’s father and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS’ Jennifer Rubin as Nick’s coworker. This is a film that’ll make you squirm, not for the blood, but for the uncomfortable places it takes you. Special features include interviews with Kurtwood Smith and Jennifer Rubin, as well as a new commentary by director Alan Shapiro.

Retro-review: New this week on BluRay from Full Moon Films!


Directed by C. Courtney Joyner
Written by H.P. Lovecraft (short story), C. Courtney Joyner
Starring Jon Finch, Blake Adams, Ashley Laurence, Jeffrey Combs, Allison Mackie, Paul Mantee, Vincent Schiavelli, Joseph Leavengood, Cristina Stoica, Luana Stoica, Adrian Pintea, Ilinca Goia, & Michael Todd as the Creature!
Retro-reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Aside from seeing HELLRAISER’s Ashley Laurence in the rain and some decent but flawed monster makeup, this Full Moon adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft short story is strictly Blahsville.

It’s been a while since I’ve read the original short tale, but this take on the story follows a long haired loner type you often see in 90’s films (Blake Adams, who looks like a stand in for Lorenzo Lamas from the old RENEGADE TV series) who is the son of a man who was buried with his fortune, unfortunately his body is buried in a cemetery that is cursed with unholy creatures lurking below the ground. When some surly bad guys show up to find the loot, they run into a priest, a doctor (Jeffrey Combs), a pregnant lady, and a tough gal (Ashley Laurence) who are trying to rid the world of these monsters underground. All of them are trapped in a church with the floor caving in and the monsters crawling around and hungry in the tunnels below.

LURKING FEAR kind of marks the point where Empire (which later became Full Moon) stopped making quality horror and started doing stuff on the cheap. Apparently, Paramount backed out of this film while it was being made and took the budget with them. Unfortunately a lot of that shows up in the final project as the film almost feels like a stage play as the action seems to only occur mainly in one location; a rundown church. The flat way this film was made and the repellent acting throughout makes this a pretty low fi experience from beginning to end. None of the scares are effective and attempts at humor from usually entertaining actors like Combs, Laurence, and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST’s Vincent Schiavelli fall dead in the water.

The only thing even mildly effective is the monster effects. The lidless eyes of the monsters are damn creepy, but because the director doesn’t really try to film them in a frightening manner, they just look like masks, because they are masks. The heavy masks are immobile and don’t really articulate much movement, so when the camera lingers on them, the fakeness of it all is blaringly apparent. Had the director only showed bits and pieces, this would not be the case, but seeing the rubber hands bend awkwardly and the faces never moving really kills any terror one might experience at such a sight.

There really is an amateur quality to most of this film. I understand there were problems behind the scenes, but better movies have been made on a lesser budget. Here the actors, the director, and everyone else in front of and behind the camera just seem to be going through the motions. The film just doesn’t have an ounce of oompf unfortunately and while the title may suggest some kind of fear, I struggled to stay awake through most of this version of LURKING FEAR.

Retro-review: New this week on DVD and VHS from Shivers Entertainment!


Directed by Paul Stoichevesk
Written by Paul Stoichevesk
Starring Paul Stoichevesk, Kieran Hart, Lorn Eisen, Labe Kagan, Allison Leigha Taylor, Nicholas Feugas, David Franklyn-Ratchford, Tony Sciara, Oz Seydali, Michael Payette, Lena Jarra, Sheila Henderson, Anita Rooplall, Ann-Marie B. Zammit, Christopher Valley Bam, Jayson Therrien, Chris Reid, Isabella Guzman, Iantha Goldberg, Bob Cotie, Kevin Vieira, Chantal Ticzon
Retro-reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

There is something to say about those who have the passion to make a horror film, even though they lack things like talent in making any type of film or acting ability. It’s that passion that sometimes I just love because you don’t see this type of determination in any other genre but horror. While being an extremely flawed movie, MASSACRE UP NORTH is still entertaining in it’s own, do it yourself sort of way.

While the story is a simple stalk and slash film, MASSACRE UP NORTH goes out of its way to give itself a complex narrative. A young boy named Leslie is scarred when his father burns his hand on a flaming shish kebab and accidentally tosses it onto his tent. The boy is badly scarred after the tent goes up into flames and grows up resentful of those who are able to live a normal life. After killing his parents who make love like porn stars in the shower before dying, Leslie grows up in an orphanage with his little brother and we cut to an adult Leslie (played by writer/director Paul Stoichevesk) who still holds resentment towards the beautiful and goes on a murderous rampage. Leslie’s brother happens to be the county coroner/crime scene investigator and helps the police try to track down the killer, not knowing that its his own brother doing the evil deeds.

Overlong and over written, Paul Stoichevesk really does try to make this a legitimate horror film by fleshing out the motivation of the killer and focusing on the investigation as well as the murders. One can see this guy trying to do something special here. But apart from the impressive gore (something that is always the best thing about films of this type for some reason), there’s nothing that special going on. Stoichevesk’s deadpan delivery of lines is excruciating to sit through and the rest of the cast don’t really emote either apart from screams here and there. The investigators are given lines of technical dialog that feel like they were copied and pasted from a coroner’s handbook. And worse yet, the motivation of both Leslie and his brother for becoming a crime scene investigator is explained at length in a scene that makes the ending discourse in PSYCHO feel natural.

But Stoichevesk seems to have a sense of humor about all of this. One investigator says “That’s an awful lot of blood!” every time he arrives at one of the crime scenes, which is pretty damn funny every time. After he is cornered in the garage, Leslie has one of his hostages set out a speaker, turns on heavy metal music, and then jumps out and bangs his head to the tunes a few times before jumping back inside. Lesie works for days making a medieval helmet, then only uses it once in a killing at the beginning. These ludicrous moments scattered about make MASSACRE UP NORTH entertaining to watch and it kept me from fast forwarding in fear of missing another inane moment.

MASSACRE UP NORTH is not a good film. It’s quite awful, but it is spectacularly good at being awful and is a fun film to watch with friends if you want something to rip on while pounding drinks. There’s a high amount of impressive gore and Stoichevesk is kind enough to toss in quite a few nude scenes, so it ain’t all bad.

BEWARE: NSFW! Boobies and blood dead ahead in this trailer!

Retro-review: Available from Sector5 Films!


Directed by Daniel Falicki
Written by Warren Croyle, Sheri Beth Dusek, Daniel Falicki
Starring Daniel Falicki, Mary Brown, Michael Cunningham, Sherryl Despres, Sheri Beth Dusek, Jeffrey Goodrich, Marly Green, James Harris, Patrick Hendren, Julianne Howe-Bouwens, Chris Kotcher, Michael McCallum, Andrew Owen, Joel Potrykus, Chris Randall, Kara Joy Reed, Mike Roberts, Jason Roth, Heath Scarbrough, Vivian Schafer, Faye Sills, Lajanae Smith
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Out of the blue, this film came along and blew my mind (I realize I used blue/blew in the same sentence, sue me). ACCIDENTAL EXORCIST is one of those low budget films that relies on strong performances, deft writing, and smart direction to engage you so much that you forget that this is a film that probably didn’t break the bank to make.

Writer/director Daniel Faliki plays Richard Vanuck, a man cursed with the power to exorcize demons from possessed souls, but at great cost to himself. Coping by drowning himself in alcohol, Richard gets calls from an unseen agent sending him on these missions where he must battle one denizen from hell after another. Richard makes attempts to atone his own demons and even tries to take a day job, but the pull of this profession he never chose is too much.

For the most part, the bulk of this almost two hour film is Richard traveling to one house after another, taking on these possessed people. But each mission is amazing in its own right. One demon forces a man to constantly clack his teeth, yet won’t let him eat. Another moves objects around the room with his mind. Another won’t stop sewing. The variation of these demons make this film fun as Richard simply bullshits with the demon and annoys them before tapping them on the forehead and sending them on their way. While the process is the same for getting rid of the demon, each demon is different, so it’s entertaining to see Richard interact with each of them.

Faliki is charismatic as hell, reminiscent of a young Michael Moriary in his dry wit and casual aloofness. This is one talented guy as he co-writes, directs, and stars in this one with ease. This film basically rests on his shoulders for the entire time, and he carries this film effortlessly through its nihilistic narrative that may get a little long in the tooth towards the end, but still ends on a satisfying note.

ACCIDENTAL EXORCIST is not a film for the squeamish. Being a possession film, much regurgitation is regurgitated here. There is a nauseating sequence where a giant fat man and Richard have a food fight which is funny, but still absolutely gross. But with so many exorcism films resorting to the old, “tie the possessed up to a bed and shouting Christ compellings,” it’s refreshing to see someone do something with the genre that’s different. This is a film that is hopeless, but entertaining, gross, but engaging, funny, but terrifying. ACCIDENTAL EXORCIST fully surprised me and if you have the stomach for it, I think you will be surprised too.

Available On Demand from Dimension/Anchor Bay Entertainment!

CLOWN (2014)

Directed by Jon Watts
Written by Christopher Ford (screenplay), Jon Watts (screenplay)
Starring Andy Powers, Laura Allen, Peter Stormare, Christian Distefano, Chuck Shamata, Elizabeth Whitmere, Victor Cornfoot, Lucas Kelly, Emily Burley, Matthew Stefiuk, Michael Riendeau, Miller Timlin, Robert Reynolds
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

John Watts somehow got the gig to direct the upcoming SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING film. I say somehow because despite it being a somewhat effective little horror movie, there really isn’t anything present in CLOWN that indicates that he has the chops to take on such a large project. I know most of these superhero movies are made by committee, but there’s nothing present here to indicate why Watts was chosen for the gig.

But we’re here to talk about CLOWN, a film that is being released rather quietly on pay per view this week. I don’t want to be a conspiracist, but it feels like the powers that be don’t want this one to be seen. And that’s kind of too bad because it’s not a bad film at all. CLOWN tells the story of Kent (Andy Powers) a nice guy and good father who scampers to find a replacement when the clown he hires for his son’s birthday party cancels. Kent is a realtor and happens to remember a crate of costumes in the basement of one of his homes. Finding an old clown suit, Kent puts it on and entertains his son and his friends, but after the party, he finds that he cannot take the suit off. Both the wig and nose are stuck on him too and Kent begins to have a hunger that he hasn’t felt before. Calling the former owner of the house (played awesomely by the always good Peter Stormare), he finds out that the suit is not a suit at all, but the skin of an ancient demon which possesses those who dare put on the suit. Kent struggles with an insatiable hunger for young kids while Karlsson (Stormare) and his wife Meg (Laura Allen) try to find a way to stop him and save him from becoming a demon.

There’s a lot of this film that I love. Like STITCHES (reviewed here), the film attempts to give a devious backstory to the clown, a seemingly harmless jokester with a horrific curse. Stormare sells this backstory with his usual eccentric charm and for the most part, the horrors in this film are actually quite effective. There’s quite a lot of blood, the acting is actually decent throughout, and the situation is quite dire as Kent is running around trying to lure kids to him so that he can devour them, regurgitating the bones afterwards. It’s quite the gruesome tale and I was surprised at how dark this film actually goes.

And I think that darkness is what is going to be off-putting for a lot of folks. Those who don’t like to see kids die in films (and frankly, no one is rooting for them unless you’re watching a HOME ALONE film) are really going to be put off by Kent’s rampage. It’s just one of those taboo subjects that many folks don’t like to see. On top of that, this isn’t a vivid film that utilizes the clown color palette. It’s a washed out and bland looking film. Even the massacre at a Chuck E Cheese feels as if most of the color has been taken out. This just isn’t a brightly colored film and I think that is another reason why this film felt like a downer of a movie, rather than an entertaining one. Yet another reason is the odd devotion Meg has for Kent even though she witnesses the horrors he is doing. I understand the power of love can make you put up with a lot, but I just didn’t believe Meg would actually think about stealing a child in order to feed her cursed husband. Again, this is dark stuff that will definitely leave a bad taste in your mouth after watching. It did for me.

CLOWN is effective in that it is quite horrifying. It deals with uncomfortable subject matter and does so through a lens that isn’t rosy colored, but grimy and rather bland. It really is a rather downer of the a film, but it does contain some rather graphic deaths and the transformation sequences are rather impressive. Again, I don’t know what Watts has planned for the upcoming SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, but I hope it doesn’t have the same dour feel to it that this film did. CLOWN will cause unease, like any good horror film should, but it sort of lacks the humanity in it for me to really recommend it.

In theaters this week!


Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by Nicolas Winding Refn (story/screenplay), Mary Laws & Polly Stenham (screenplay)
Starring Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Abbey Lee, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Jamie Clayton, Desmond Harrington, Alessandro Nivola, Taylor Marie Hill, Charles Baker, Karl Glusman
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

I haven’t seen the PUSHER films, but upon going into THE NEON DEMON, Nicholas Winding Refn was 2 for 3 with me in terms of making decent, watchable films. BRONSON was amazing. As was DRIVE, but like many, ONLY GOD FORGIVES was an exercise in tedium from a director who seemed to love the smell of his own farts. While not as impenetrable as ONLY GOD FORGIVES, if that film annoyed you, you’re bound to have an issue or two with NWR’s latest film, THE NEON DEMON.

To start off, the multiple times THE NEON DEMON takes the opportunity to mention that this is a film by Nicholas Winding Refn or even more pretentiously NWR in the credits at the beginning and the end indicates that Refn is proud of his work in THE NEON DEMON—and the man should be, I guess. But the sheer amount of times his name or the NWR initials show up in the credits was off-putting to me right from the get go. He is a talented director with an undisputable eye for beauty. There are scenes in THE NEON DEMON that are absolutely breathtaking—many of which are focused on its star Elle Fanning who plays Jesse, naïve noob to the LA modeling scene who has a look most in the industry would kill for. This film centers on Jesse’s beauty which she exudes without even trying. Everyone in this film, from her wannabe boyfriend (Karl Glusman) to a pervy industry photographer (DEXTER’s Desmond Harrington) to her equally pervy hotel manager (Keanu Reeves) to an egotistical designer (Alessandro Nivola) to her lusting makeup artist (Jenna Malone) to her envious fellow models (Abby Lee & Bella Heathcote), want to either be her or be with her—and sometimes both. Jesse is less of a character and more of an object in this film to be desired and envied as she is given only fragments of a past to share with the audience. What is refreshing is that she is more than willing to admit she is beautiful, though it does tend to make her character less appealing the more she talk about it. And as Jesse makes her short trip to stardom, she still manages to make plenty of enemies along the way.

While this is a striking film, the story itself is, in many ways, very much like the horror film STARRY EYES which was released just last year. I couldn’t help but think of STARRY EYES while watching this film because while THE NEON DEMON looks fantastic and sounds amazing, I kept going back to that little horror film and liking is infinitely more due to the fact that filmmakers Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer were able to touch upon a lot of the same points in a more entertaining fashion. Sure, THE NEON DEMON has an eye for beauty, but it is also extremely self-indulgent. DRIVE had it’s fair share of silences, but it was hooked to a compelling story and the action on screen made these silences worth while. THE NEON DEMON is a very quiet film as well, and while it doesn’t fall into the ocean of tedium that was ONLY GOD FORGIVES, after the second hour mark, I was definitely looking at my watch and wondering how long this story of beauty begets ugliness was going to go on. This is especially true as the story can really be summed up in a much tidier and less obnoxious manner by snipping a scene or three of Fanning zoning out to the beauty of being in the spotlight.

It doesn’t help that much like her overnight success in the model industry, Jesse’s leap into fame and the ugliness that comes with that type of narcissistic world is rather quick. Jesse gets one job with a fashion designer and is asked to be the final girl in the show and seemingly from that one gig, she becomes a vacant, jaded. and dead eyed creature she scoffed at earlier in the movie through doe-eyes. For such a long film, this transformation from wide-eyed newbie to mirror-addicted mannequin happens in one scene and it just didn’t feel believable.

Another rather weird aspect of THE NEON DEMON is that while Refn’s style is often categorized as Kubrikian, he tosses in one homage after another to Kublrick in this film. A lipstick shade is called “Red Rum,” someone is warned about a specific room in a hotel, and right before the blood starts flowing, someone draws on a mirror in lipstick. Refn prepares us for the bloody conclusion of this film in the first seconds with a crime scene model shoot focusing on a blood covered model looking dead into the camera. This not-so-subtle foreshadowing, accompanied with the Kubrick lifts from THE SHINING, felt more like force-feeding rather than nuance. The thing with Kubrick is that he did have an otherworldly feel with long silences to punctuate violence, feeling, and moments of resonance, but he also bookended these silences with something we haven’t seen before. To have so many obvious nods to Kubrick this late in the game doesn’t speak well of Refn.

But I don’t want to rag on this film too much as it does in many ways encapsulate the modeling industry and all the horrors that accompany it. Beautiful on the outside and somewhat hollow on the inside is the foundation of what the industry is built upon. Fanning really is gorgeous and charismatic in the lead and it is evident that the young woman has a huge career ahead of her. While the shift from virgin to pro is an abrupt one in the story, it isn’t her fault and she plays both aspects of this character well exuding innocence in one moment and a stare that could eat you alive in the next. This film definitely feels like Fanning’s “Wrecking Ball” moment where she is announcing to the world that she’s no longer a little girl, but a woman and for “Wrecking Ball” moments, this definitely is an impactful one. But it is Jenna Malone who offers up a performance that culminates into the film’s most memorable scene as a makeup artist who has conflicting feelings of both lust for Jesse as well as a motherly sense of protection. Her morgue scene is one that will make this film memorable and iconic and surely shows Malone is an actress who fears nothing and will go to great lengths to shock, entertain, and fascinate.

Somewhere, under a whole lot of navel-gazing and ponderous scenes of neat, but droning imagery, THE NEON DEMON is a strong story about the ugliness of an industry that exploits the beautiful. It’s got amazing performances from Elle Fanning, Jenna Malone, and Abby Lee (whose eyes are the stuff dreams and nightmares are made of). It a gorgeous looking ad for something we know very well is corrupt and damaging. While it tries to give off a message of how fame devours the soul, it is a theme that has been well delved into in films that have done so at greater depth, though not through a prettier lens. THE NEON DEMON makes its point well enough, but doesn’t do it in any way we didn’t already know or already have seen in other films in better ways. I’m sure there are those who will be dazzled by this film’s dream-like beauty, but THE NEON DEMON, sadly, doesn’t have anything new to say about this subject matter that hasn’t been said before.

In theaters this week!


Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by Anthony Jaswinski
Starring Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug

Sharks scare the shit out of me. I can watch werewolves, zombies, serial killers, the most gut-churning gore, and any other beastie the horror genre tosses at me, but sharks are the one thing that will have my heart pumping and my feet pulled up to my chin more than anything. I spent most of the time tapping my leg in nervous tension while watching THE SHALLOWS, which is a surefire indication that this shark movie is one of the best killer shark films in ages.

The premise is about as simple as it comes. After losing her mother to cancer, Nancy (Blake Lively) tracks down a secret beach her mother went to before she was born to surf and reminisce about what to do next with her life. With her friend left hung over in the hotel room, Nancy goes to this hidden cove alone. After running into a pair of surfers and catching a few waves, Nancy comes across the carcass of a whale floating near her and finds herself in the feeding ground of a very large and very mean great white shark. Wounded and trapped only a few hundred yards from the beach, Nancy fights the elements, the tides, and a big fucking shark in hopes to survive.

This is a (wo)man vs. nature story at its simplest. Apart from Lively talking herself through this problematic scenario, much of this film is simply hard core action with stakes that are most dire. There is an intensity in the way Jaume Collet-Serra makes this film as he gets the camera up close to Lively trapped on a rock yards from the beach and even into the mouth of that horrifying shark. There is not much by way of quiet and calm moments here. Even though a day passes in the timeframe of the film, there is never a moment that felt dull or pointless. The lead in to this perilous situation is short and quick, but even then, Collet-Serra manages to show us things you haven’t seen before by going into the surf and watching these surfer do their thing under and above the waves. One of the more terrifying techniques the director used to make me need a new change of underwear was the way he places the camera right on the crest of the water, so we as the viewer get to peek quickly under the waves. Knowing this is a shark movie, I knew a shark was coming, so every time Collet-Serra gives us a glimpse, I found myself scanning everything I could see in order to make sure the coast was clear. This technique is used throughout the film and it got me on edge every damn time.

While JAWS may be a fantastic film, there are scenes where the shark just doesn’t do it for me. It was a sign of the times and while it still manages to terrify my, I was hoping and waiting for a film to come along and make a scarier shark. While JAWS remains king, I dub THE SHALLOWS queen of the shark movies given the gender of its hero and the shark in this one is pants-shittingly horrifying. Again, by using the continuous undulation of the waves and putting the camera right on the edge of the water, Collet-Serra embraces the element of surprise and allows for some moments where the shark leaps right out of the water and into your face. See this film with an audience if you can. I don’t think I have ever heard screams as loud as the ones I heard from the audience while watching this movie. The attack scenes are nightmare fuel and as I write this review the night of seeing it, I don’t look forward to going to bed tonight. I’m sure the shark was CG, but it looked amazing and terrifyingly real all the way through.

Collet-Serra even references JAWS, but not in an annoying way. Imagine if the whole of JAWS took place in the first segment with the girl swimming at night and that buoy. That’s pretty much what THE SHALLOWS is. The buoy itself plays a major role in this one and makes for the setting of one of the most brilliant climaxes I’ve seen in ages as Nancy clings to it for dear life as the shark batters away at it from all sides.

One of the things I often see folks criticizing mainly the JAWS sequels and less of the original is the fact that the shark develops a human-like hunger for revenge, which makes things feel less believable. While the shark is relentless in THE SHALLOWS, it feels less angry as it is simply always hungry and prefers moving prey rather than the carcass of the whale which is floating just a few yards away from Nancy. Sure the shark is determined to get Nancy, but it never feels like it is anything more than an animal looking for its prey. For Nancy, this story is personal. But in this film, the shark’s motivation seems to purely be hunger, which makes it feel less contrived and more believable.

Marvel movies blundered big time by choosing Brie Larson for their CAPTAIN MARVEL as Blake Lively proved herself as a tough as nails action star that can carry a movie charismatically and capably. She’s absolutely gorgeous and scrumptious in a bikini, but despite her beauty there’s a thoughtfulness and likability to her sincere smile, her furrowed brow, and her gritted teeth here. While there are bigger movies out there this summer, nothing has yet topped the experience I had watching THE SHALLOWS. Lively proves she has star power to the max here and director Collet-Serra shows us that there can be more than one shark in the shark movie subgenre. I absolutely loved this film and hope people go see it this weekend. It will definitely make you rethink that beach vacation and have you thanking that you are walking out of the theater on dry land.

And finally…here’s another radio play from the amazing LIGHT’S OUT series. Hunker up to your speakers, turn down the lights, and get ready for NOBODY DIED!

See ya next week, folks!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 15 years & AICN HORROR for 5. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller and on his new website collecting posts for AICN HORROR as well as all of the most recent updates on his various comic book projects on

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