Razortooth (US-2006; dir. Patricia Harrington)
A thoroughly generic example of its subgenre, Razortooth differs mainly in featuring giant mutated eels instead of giant mutated crocodiles, snakes, lizards, sharks, crustaceans, piranha, Chinese snake-heads, birds, ferrets, rabbits or whatever particular species the filmmakers insert into the template.
The setting is one of the most common: a small US town on a swampy, bayou-like river. Visually nice stuff. Watery, Mossy. With a bit of forest to get stalked in and the occasional ramshackle riverside hovel. Lots of dogs that can be among the first, most lamented victims.
The characters are all instantly recognisable: the female sheriff and her ex-husband, the Animal Control officer (who though divorced, don’t really want to be); the dodgy professor whose genetic fiddling has unethically unleashed the mutated X, which he’s now trying to rectify without actually being discovered and held responsible; his newly arrived research students (overweight nerd and attractive female devotee, along with dumb football jock and dumber friend — neither of whom would gain even a provisional place in a higher degree research program in any of the universities where I’ve worked); the group of innocents, in this case scouts out for a down-river canoe trip and camp-out; the gun-happy, Marine-wannabe redneck, whose methods are at odds with the Sheriff’s; assorted pleasant or at least humorous deputies and sidekicks; two escaped convicts on the run; and a variety of garden-variety hicks, mostly drunk (and then eaten, in that order). Needless to say, most of them become lunch. A gold star if you pick the survivors. Go on! It’s easy. There are absolutely no surprises.
The plot you’ve seen many times. First off some kill scenes (in this case a posse hunting escaped cons). Next morning: the sheriff is out looking for the cons while the Animal Control guy is looking for lost dogs and the “snake with a huge mouth” under the porch of one of the local drunks. Scouts leave on canoeing trip, with ominous aural accompaniments. Various monster POV shots. More kills, including one big fat hick eaten while on the loo. The paths of the Sheriff and the Animal Control guy cross. They argue then have sex (against the better judgement of both). More kills. Half eaten bodies and blood-splatter patterns start turning up. The research students arrive and start acting out with the Professor and each other. Seems the Prof. is looking for eels. An empty canoe turns up — the scouts are missing from it. Arguments with redneck and his militia buddies, who want to take the law into their own hands. Animal Control guy meets Professor and Animal Control guy hits Professor, making him confess to his personal culpability. Scepticism among search party re giant eel. They split up. Everyone gradually gets eaten. More half bodies turn up. The Prof. reveals a possible way to kill beastie. Confrontation takes place, but it goes wrong. Nearly everyone is dead now. Whereupon, of course, the Animal Control guy comes up with an alternative plan that is so stupid that it could only work if undertaken by the hero and if the giant eel acts differently this time to every other time it has attacked. Luckily, Animal Control guy is the hero and the eel does act differently. The end. But is it?
Razortooth is not the best example of its kind, nor is it the worst. It’s nowhere near as good as the similarly generic Frankenfish (US-2006; dir. Mark A.Z. Dippé), which manages to transcend its generic elements somewhat (see Backbrain review here), but nowhere near as bad as, say, Lake Placid 2 (US-2007; dir. David Flores), which is almost the same plot-wise but even sillier in detail and much more boring. In Razortooth the acting is functional, if never overly involving (a result of the generic script really: though the dialogue is functional, there’s not much one can do with it, acting-wise.) The photography is okay, mostly — scenic when appropriate, functional when not. At least it’s clear and easy on the eyes. The direction is of the non-ostentatious variety. There’s lots of monster action and plenty of blood, prosthetic gore and dismemberment. The CGI is decent cheapie CGI, with some nice moments (and a few dodgy ones), only losing itself toward the end when everything — including victims, money and creative energy — is running down. Compared to a big-budget CGI effort, it’s colour-by-numbers compared to Leonardo Da Vinci, but colour-by-numbers is okay and has its place in the scheme of things. In short, it’s functional and pretty much what I’d expected coming in to the film.
Razortooth is so generic, in fact, it couldn’t possibly provoke more than a generic response. The real audience of the film is pretty much only those who haven’t watched many monster-on-the-loose B-flicks, desperate giant monster fans and random semi-comatose viewers who stumbled upon it by accident sometime after midnight and thought: “Giant eel? Cool.”
Watch it if you fall into any of these categories.
If you want to see every monster movie, it’s okay, i saw it and, well, mostly forgot everything but the monster, but we know it’s not oscar nomination stuff…