Wow, finally, a WMD!
Kramer (Jeff Fahey) – who is some kind of army commander – sends Sgt. Baxter (Robert Beltran) and his men – and woman Cpl. Keats (Heather Donahue) – out into the middle of nowhere Iraq to find a missing reporter, one Ashley Pierce (Chase Masterson). On the way out they find that all’s not well in the region – which shouldn’t surprise anyone – and there are a lot of corpses stuffed in various places. They eventually meet up with Umari (Faran Tahir) – an Iraqi who knows English – and a monster of some sort… don’t look at the title or you’ll figure out the secret!
Now, I like stories about soldiers fighting against monsters, it’s just something I enjoy. Most horror films are about some poor everyman or Jane Doe who ends up in the crosshairs of something evil. Sometimes those evil things are supernatural, other times they’re some human monster, and, occasionally, they’re nothing more than the evil that lives in men’s minds! Okay, no more cliches. The thing is, when the victims to be are actually trained to survive, it makes the hunt look a lot more interesting, like those bears during hunting season that wear body armor and carry sniper rifles. Any monster can slash a bunch of horny teenagers who smoke pot and wander into the woods alone wrapped only in a towel, but it takes something tough and smart to deal with a group of armed experts who have survived awful stuff before and expect to again. That’s fun.
Unlike the usual, some effort is put into making the different grunts into individuals, not much different from common stereotypes, but different enough that it works. Unfortunately, even to my limited knowledge of military standards I know that while they’re all interesting people, they’re not really soldiers. They call their sergeant ‘sir’, which I’m pretty sure they don’t go for. They all have different gas masks during the scene in which they enter the town, which, given the military’s habit of standardization, seems unusual. They also don’t seem nearly tense enough for a dangerous situation and constantly seem to put themselves in situations that are more dangerous than they need to be. I’m sure that someone who has actually spent some time in the military would find thousands of more problems, but when a devout civvy like me notices the errors, they have to be blatant.
The monster is the CGI crap that has become the norm in made-for-television films that are shown on the Sci-Fi Channel / Syfy. This one is a bit better than usual because it only sometimes looks like a creature that escaped from a Playstation game and sometimes resembles something from a Playstation 2 game. The manticore in this film doesn’t particularly look like the creature of myth for, while it does have the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion with optional wings, it doesn’t have the head of a man; it seems to have the head of a lion instead. I’m not sure if that’s a better or a worse choice as the head of a man would either make the creature look really creepy or would make everyone laugh at it.
Oh well, at least there’s no stupid Blair Witch parody.
Teaser on YouTube.