Ah, the Oregon Coast! Protected against over development by prescient state leaders who, in 1913, declared the entire coast a public highway: open to all; privately owned and developed by none.
In 1935, a substantial parcel of land along the coast was purchased by Alec Adams (Jack Barry – “The Convert”) and his wife Linda (Holly Shervy – “Head High”). But then, in 1946, something happened.
Alec and the couple’s daughter drowned in the ocean, and pregnant Linda moved away. She gave birth to a son, Ben (Matt Whelan – “Gary of the Pacific”), and spent much of the rest of her life in and out of mental institutions.
Flash forward to 1978: a grown Ben and his wife Jules (Luciane Buchanan – “Stray”) are running a pet store. One day, a lawyer comes to tell them that they own property on the Oregon Coast, bought by Ben’s Dad and inherited through Ben’s mother.
So begins “The Tank,” an atmospheric thriller from writer/director Scott Walker (“The Frozen Ground”).
Walker has done an outstanding job of developing tension in this unusual tale, including some truly harrowing episodes expertly shot in the eponymous “Tank” (it’s a water tank, or cistern). Character development is adequate for this type of film, and the acting is, in my opinion, above average, especially from Buchanan.
The protagonists, facing financial difficulties, are offered an “out of the blue” opportunity to make some money, and when they first see the natural magnificence of the property they’ve inherited, it does seem a godsend. Will their greed overcome their fear over an unknown threat? Due to the fast pace of the film, we aren’t offered that exploration. It would also be nice if we’d been introduced to more of Jules’ background, especially since she turns out to be quite the “bad ass”! But that is also missing.
There are a number of glaring holes in the narrative (you could drive an Oregon lumber truck through a couple of them), but again the fast pace makes them less obvious on first viewing.
This is a creature feature, and we probably get to see too much of the beasties, who are innocently alluded to early on in the film, but they are mostly effective, if implausible.
The music and sound are good, without the horrendous electronic squealing and squalling found in lesser flicks. Nice cinematography, especially in the woods and the tank where Ben’s flashlight keeps the viewer disoriented and unsure what might pop up unexpectedly. However, the creature vocalizations are disappointing.
Despite these limitations, the tightly-written script, the good performances, and the eerie set pieces make up for a lot. If this is your movie genre, you will find much to enjoy. There are some fairly gory bits, but this is far from a slasher/disemboweler.
Note: This film was shot on the coast of New Zealand, rather than Oregon. Boo.
Runtime: One hour, 40 minutes
Availability: Available for rent or purchase through the major streamers.
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