This movie is loosely, and I mean loosely based on a real-life snakehead infestation in Maryland. I am always on the lookout for fish monster movies so I had some high expectations that this movie would be a breath of fresh air, a beacon of light in the storm of the same ol’ same ol’ sharksploitation-esque plot tropes.
It is and it isn’t. The upside is that the monster was a giant Chinese snakehead fish. Known for its voracious appetite and propensity to destroy native ecosystems, this alien species has grown into bigun’s in a Louisiana swamp. Yay! A different kind of fish monster! Also, I was tickled to see several actors from my beloved Sons of Anarchy series (I have a thing for unwashed biker men who smell like leather and stale cigarette butts).
Well, it’s not the worst low budget fish movie known to humankind. So, there isn’t a downside per se. I just found myself losing interest multiple times. I appreciated the effort in trying to do something a little different with the monster, making it a non-shark, icky, snaggle-toothed freshwater creature. The issue I have is the blatant overuse of CGI. I’m getting so fucking sick of it, y’all. If they had used practical effects for the big bad fish, I would have been cheering like a preteen at a NKOTB concert circa 1989. It gets so old when the blood is CGI, the monster is CGI, the beheaded corpses are CGI, maybe I’m CGI, maybe everything is CGI. I have sunken into the abyss of CGI ennui. I shall now emit the CGI sigh.
The film begins with a crab fisherman getting eaten. A medical examiner, Sam, teams up with a biologist named Mary and they go to the bayou to investigate. They find some locals living on houseboats in the swamp and the head of a dead gator. One of the floating homes belongs to the family of the dead fisherman. The wife is a voodoo witch and the daughter used to go to high school with Sam. Sam and Mary find an abandoned boat with a bunch of rotting Chinese crew in the hold. Mary finds a giant fish scale so we know what we already knew from the title and movie poster. We have a big ass mutated fishie on our hands.
Without spraying you with too much spoiler juice, the majority of the movie takes place on the floating house boats that aren’t working boats at all. The gang gets trapped, attacked, and plays a fun little game of “the river is lava”. I have to begrudgingly admit that despite the CGI, some of the attacks are not bad and come out of the blue. The action stays fairly solid and no character is off-limits from meeting his or her gory demise. Of course, we have the mandatory love interest between Sam and Eliza. God forbid we don’t cater to the hopeless romantic subsection of the monster movie rabid fans. It’s just too predictable. Stop it.
The decaying Chinese crew from that boat were mules for some gangster douche canoe who runs a type of Chinese mafia. I admit I was a little lost on this other plot until the end of the movie. Turns out, this fucktard paid Chinese scientists to manufacture a genetically engineered super snakehead so he can hunt and kill it for sport. This makes fuck all sense to me. He clearly doesn’t live close to the river where the fish are. He lets them loose to eat a bunch of locals. When he does show up, he watches the shitshow of carnage and decides to keep one of the monster fish and bring it home alive. How? This guy has nothing but a broken airboat and a misplaced sense of entitlement. The thing is 20 feet long. Where is he going to put it while he brings it back home? I ain’t gonna fit under his seat or in the overhead bin. Also, it eats people and refuses to wear a mask.
The ending is fun. The running time is short. At one point, a guy kills a giant snakehead, rips out its heart, barbecues it and eats it only to be promptly eaten himself. This movie has its moments. Worth a watch. Just be prepared to get some CGI in your CG-eyes.
Director: Mark Dippe
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, youtube