A Megalodon Avenges a Big Oil Cover-up In Baja
There is no such thing as a bad creature feature. Trollhunter, Jurassic Park, and Alien are very fashionable examples of the subgenre, but what about movies with lower budgets and more ambitious plotlines? Avant-garde canons like The Birds, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and Pet Sematary deserve more recognition for their absurdity.
These kinds of movies satisfy a latent desire to see humans get what they deserve from oppressed forces of nature. Whether velociraptors, seagulls, or GMOs dole it out, there’s something strangely gratifying about seeing flora and fauna fight back: the more ridiculous, the better.
White Privilege and Environmental Destruction
The Black Demon is deceptively coherent. It touches on rarely discussed disparities in the offshore oil industry, like its exaggerated economic benefit, dangerous working conditions, and corporate ponzi schemes. By redirecting operations outside the U.S., fictitious “Nixon Oil” is able to hire Mexican employees, pay them less, and treat them worse without consequence. From the beginning, audiences can’t help but wonder who the real monster is supposed to be.
It’s hard to tell if this was intentional, but the Sturges family is almost unbearable to watch; even the most understanding audiences would start rooting for the megalodon within the first five minutes. Oil executive Paul (Josh Lucas) and his wife Ines (Fernanda Urrejola) are poster children for new money after a shotgun wedding. The insufferable pair oscillates between disproportionate anger and impassioned affection for each other, often when there are much more serious concerns.
More Money, More Problems
Carlos Solórzano worked with what he had for a convincing portrayal of their son Tommy. Their daughter Audrey (Venus Ariel) wasn’t given a lot of opportunity to stray from the stereotype written in her character, but the effort is there. There are about three too many group hugs to elicit any kind of sympathy for the family, but then again, it could have been on purpose.
There are some very quotable lines in the movie, no doubt a proud product of arduous drafting, such as, “I know a big ass shark when I see one.” The script’s poetic flair really complements one of the central motifs of The Black Demon, which is: stupid gringos.
Fossil Fuels and a Prehistoric Shark
Oil rigs are indisputably more dangerous to humans than sharks are. An irrational fear of sharks, and megalodons for that matter, isn’t what fuels the terror in The Black Demon, which the producers deserve recognition for. Without giving too much away, the movie preys on the fear of being held accountable for past mistakes.
The Black Demon (2023). Official Paramount Trailer.