The Tank is about a generic a horror title as any, and sadly the quality of the end product is equally forgettable. Fantastic creature design should have made this an easy winner, yet The Tank as a whole cannot live up to it. Written, directed, and produced by Scott Walker (2013’s The Frozen Ground), The Tank features stunning effects work by Weta Workshop. At its best, the film gave me strong vibes of Jurassic Park and legendary horror flick, The Descent; more often than not though, 2010’s abysmal Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is emulated. Prepare to unleash an ancient evil—just don’t expect originality or a gripping storyline.
In our first of several melodramatic flashback sequences, the year is 1946. A man screams after climbing into a square-shaped hole, attempts to claw his way out, and is promptly dragged back down! Cue: opening credits. By starting in such a bloodless and generic way, The Tank did not inspire much confidence from me. Thankfully, our central storyline is considerably less off-putting. Rather than leaping forward to present day, we find our familial cast of characters hard at work trying to maintain their animal store business. Matriarch Jules (Luciane Buchanan) hopes to soon open a practice with husband Ben (Matt Whelan), whilst their adorable daughter, Reia (Zara Nausbaum), can’t stop playing with the cute puppies.
A man stops by hoping to see Ben with some rather surprising news. Ben’s mother, a woman whose sanity was constantly called into question as she fleeted in and out of being institutionalized, passed away only a couple of months ago. When going through her paperwork, an old deed was discovered in Ben’s fathers name that has actually sat untouched for thirty years. A coastal property in Oregon with a beautiful view of the ocean almost sounds too good to be true. Happy to check it out, Ben and his family head for the picturesque Hobbit’s Bay, unbeknownst that they are on the precipice of awakening a creature too horrid to mention.
The setup here is rather good, playing up the old horror trope of a family “moving” to a new home. They begin to discover old records that once belonged to Ben’s mom, of course calling into question her sanity. Ben comes upon an old water tank, and climbs down into it. Why was this home hidden for so long? Was Ben’s mother really crazy? Did Ben’s father and sister really perish in a car accident, or was there more sinister involvement? The answer to nearly every single of these questions is underwhelming.
Nevertheless, The Tank does continue some genuine moments of suspense, and manages to carry quite the heavy load off the strengths of its creature effects. Slimy and gross, snarling and even horrifying, the creature here just plain works. If one has come to get a healthy dose of goopy and gross, The Tank can be skipped; if simple monster-movie creepiness is more their cup of tea, The Tank delivers in spades.
The Tank bursts out of captivity and into theatre screens on Friday, April 21st, then later comes to Digital on April 25th.