Tuesday, May 30, 2023

THE TANK (2022) (Well Go USA Blu-ray Review)

THE TANK (2022) 

Label: Well Go USA
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 99 Minutes 52 Seconds 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Scott Walker
Cast: Luciane Buchanan, Matthew Whelan, Zara Nausbaum

Creature-feature The Tank (2022) from director Scott Walker (The Frozen Ground) is set in the late 70's, a married couple, Ben (Matt Whelan, Narcos) and Jules (Luciane Buchanan, Sweet Tooth), are living in Oakland, California where they run a struggling pet store. One day they're visited by a lawyer (Mark Mitchinson, Evil Dead Rise) handling Ben's estranged mother's estate, who tells him that she held property along the rural Oregon coast and that he's entitled to it, a property Ben was never aware of previously. Apparently abandoning their pet shop (seemingly so anyway) the couple travel to the property with their daughter Reia (Zara Nusbaum) to check it out, finding a dilapidated and vine covered house with no working water. They set about rehabilitating the home beginning with getting the water running again, with Ben finding a below ground stone-walled water tank in the back of the house. The subterranean cistern is meant to pump water from a below ground spring for use inthe home, so Ben gets the pump going and water is restored. While he is in the cistern he finds the corpse of a strange looking black-skinned, eyeless creature, what appears to be some sort of toothy amphibian. 

That's the creature-feature set-up, and a solid one it is, but then the film relaxes into a bit of family drama as Jules discovers Ben's mother's (Holly Shervey, American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story) diary, which lends clues to his mom's shady past. His mom spent much of his life in an asylum and he doesn't know a lot about her life, other than his father and older sister went missing while living at the coastal home. Old news paper clipping found in the house indicate people have mysteriously gone missing in the area dating back to the 1700s without explanation, and there are old Native American tales about the ground opening up and swallowing people. Like a lot of low-budget 70s and 80s horror the creature(s) are not really seen for a good 75% of the flick, but the mystery about his mother and disappearing dad and sis just are not enough to fill that void, the movie is well-shot with some gorgeous rural Northwest locations with rocky surf-beaten coastline but I found it a bit bland, that is until the creature action starts up, once it does I will say that I was pretty forgiving of the slower first three-quarters.

The creature at hand - SPOILERS AHEAD - is a large toothy black-skinned salamander sort of looking thing, with a head that sort of opens up like a Demogorgon from Stranger Things revealing rows of teeth and a Georgie O'Keefe looking  (if you know what I mean) throat-sphincter  in the back of it's mouth. The creature is brought to life with a human actor in a Weta designed rubber suit, it's s mostly effective, though I did think that when they showed too much of it the realism of it, though credit to suit-actor Regina Hegemann who did good work in the suit, I just think at times we see too much of it and the effect is slightly diminished. 

When the creature comes for their daughter the resilient couple go after it, utilizing explosives, a homemade 
flamethrower and a pitchfork to fight for her. A lot of the creature-action happens in the subterranean cistern, which is truly a terrific location, it's creepy and claustrophobically 
cavernous. Overall I liked this low-budget creature-feature but the slow middle part did dampen by enjoyment a bit, but once that creature action starts up I was onboard pretty much right up till the end. 

Audio/Video: The Tank (2022) arrives on Blu-ray from Well Go USA in 1080p HD widescreen, the digital shot film utilizes some blue filtering for flashback scenes and is also tempered by cinematographer Aaron Morton's (Orphan Black) desaturated lensing that leans teal - it's not ugly but it's not a vibrant films either, I just didn't care for the desaturated teal look of it. That aside the color saturation such as it is was fine and black levels are generally strong, and textured detail in the close-ups is pleasing. Audio comes by way of DTS-HD MA 5.1 with optional English subtitles. Both are solid, offering some good old dark house sound design that heightens atmosphere, the score from Max Aruj (Crawl) has some heft to it. 

extras include a couple of featurettes and trailers, we get the 3-min The Tank - A Look Into the Tank with the cast and crew, plus the more interesting 5-min The Tank - Making the Creature that has some great behind-the-scenes footage of the actor in the suit and production artwork. This disc is topped off with a theatrical trailer for the film plus additional Well Go USA trailer. The single-disc release arrives in a standard keepcase with a slipcover featuring the same artwork as the wrap with a matte finish and glossy-raised lettering on the cover. 

Special Features:
- The Tank - A Look Into the Tank (3:16)
- The Tank - Making the Creature (5:22)
- Theatrical Trailer (2:20)
- Trailers: Bone Cold (1:34), Forgotten Experiment (2:28), The Siege (1:50)

I firmly put The Tank in the liked not loved (or loathed) category, perhaps a one and done for me, but I'd give it a mild recommend for lovers of practical effects creature flicks, it's worth a watch. I could see it appealing to you of you enjoy stuff like The Kindred and Bleeders, just with the caveat the I don't think it's on par with either of those flicks, but the gist of it is in the ballpark.

Screenshots from the Well Go USA Blu-ray: