Tentacles is one of those films that sounds like a really old giant monster film. However it is more of a horror film than one about monster attacks and it just lacks that classic Toho feel. I’m still not the biggest fan of underwater films in general but I suppose the effects could have been worse. This is certainly a film that won’t really be remembered but at least the ending went a different route than I had expected.
The film starts off with a Giant Octopus murdering a bunch of people. The film was trying to go for an edgy approach right off the bat so the first victim is a toddler. Another kid ends up dying by the end as well. It’s definitely the film’s attempt at shock value which shows right from the start that it probably isn’t too confident in its abilities. Well, the Octopus keeps murdering people so finally a water expert by the name of Will decides to avenge his wife by destroying it. This will be a tough challenge but he has no choice. Honor dictates his actions now.
Of course, while Will has no choice, he has no plan either. The whole time I was wondering when he was going to load his gun and fire, but he doesn’t actually do anything. This is the worst attempt at avenging someone that I have ever seen. We then see him joking around in the next scene as the film ends even though he didn’t actually do anything. It was definitely annoying to say the least. Of course, the characters here were not very smart from the start so it’s not too surprising.
After several murders have occurred at the ocean and her husband is sent in to investigate them…his wife decides to take a boat to the middle of the ocean. It’s probably the most random moment in the film and of course she is destroyed. I don’t know what her plan was here, but once again I can confirm that it was not a good one. Then the town as a collective whole isn’t great either. Amidst the murders they decide to still go ahead with their water boat competition. Now, it’s hard to say just how much they know but at least the first murder was in the papers and I’m inclined to think that the rest would be as well even if there are no details to be found. The cops apparently had a little part of the Ocean surveyed so it couldn’t get near the boats without a warning but with its speed that barely even matters. Fortunately the film didn’t want to get quite that grim (Although I thought it was getting there for a moment) and most of the kids survived as opposed to all of them being destroyed but it doesn’t reflect well on the town. No way do you hold a contest at a time like this. The police also seemed surprised at remembering that there was a contest, but the contestants got a police escort and there were a bunch of copters in the air so were they just not on the same page?
Well, the film did have a soundtrack so I’ve definitely got to give it some proper kudos there. It has its own interpretation of the Jaws theme but really slams it in your face with how often it is played. I understand that it’s supposed to be scary but if you play it in every scene then it won’t work anymore. There are a few fake jump moments to get you scared as well. You can call this film many things, but subtle is certainly not one of them.
The film would also lose its budget at times as the screen would freeze and nothing would happen. There’s also a long speech given during a rather disjointed set of screenshots and the opening moments of the film are practically filmed in first person. I’m not sure who thought this was a good idea. What I do know is that it was not executed well at all. It’s rare to find camerawork so bad that it has to be mentioned but I just have to do my part to show directors that you never want to go down the Cloverfield route. It’s just not worth it and this film gets dangerously close.
The highlight here is definitely the two Killer Whales. Those characters were definitely emotional and made the tough calls when the main character wouldn’t. They proved that they do in fact have sharp teeth and a good grip and they completely rip the Octopus apart. I was totally expecting the Killer Whales to kick the bucket so the film actually did manage to surprise me in a good way. Who knew that it would have a classy ending like this.
Now if only the writing could have been better. Unfortunately it is quite bad. Any scene with the sister talking to her kids is fairly brutal and this is supposed to be the comedy part of the film! Then you’ve also got subplots that never really go anywhere like the corporate business guy whose subordinate apparently broke the law in order to speed up the business. This is the film’s way of explaining why there is a Giant Octopus but we never learn what the experiments were or why it would create a giant monster. How did the researchers not notice that a giant octopus had suddenly popped up? A lot of plot convenience here for sure.
We did have a confident reporter known as Ned to try and keep everyone honest though. I’d say that he is a good character but still comes off as being less impressive than the usual character archetype. He plays off everyone’s egos in order to get them to work. It’s a sound strategy and works well enough so you can’t fault him there. If he picked up a gun and also went on the mission to stop the Octopus, then that may have helped his case.
Overall, Tentacles was a little better than I thought it would be. It has less shock value than you would expect from this film and the Killer Whales actually defeating the giant monsters was a real treat. Of course, being better than terrible still isn’t something to be too proud of so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I don’t think this movie is good enough to pass the ground floor (5/10) but at least it got this far. If you really want to watch an underwater monster film then this is for you but I would much sooner recommend the Scooby Doo Loch Ness Monster film.