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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Aquarium of the Dead, or: Stars in My Eyes

Alas, shark films seem to be a victim of the streaming wars or perhaps have peaked in popularity. Either way, it’s been a bit of a challenge to dig up a relevant shark movie each week of the month…which is why this week we head to the aquarium (it’s like a zoo for fishes). An aquarium that contains zombie sharks, if that’s any consolation?

The Film:

Aquarium of the Dead

Director:

Glenn Miller

The Premise:

After the animals in an aquarium suffer from a reanimating disease, the staff and visitors inside must find a way to escape while containing the outbreak.

The Ramble:

Things are off to a rocky start when a routine vet visit with an aquarium’s octopus goes awry, leaving two dead. It seems the octopus had an unexpected reaction to medication, essentially dying and then becoming reanimated. The reanimation brings along with it some pesky side effects–notably, the urge to kill humans.

A group of five people freeze as a large walrus on the loose in an aquarium approaches.

After receiving a warning to destroy all of the medication, aquarium director Miranda feels confident their facility is secure. All of the doses their staff found were destroyed…right?

Meanwhile, all is not well as unlucky Skylar enjoys a personal VIP tour of the aquarium for his birthday. Which is an interesting choice as he doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of interest in marine life, but who am I to judge (said with some degree of irony as that’s one of the primary elements of the Collab)? As the aquarium goes on emergency lockdown, Skylar as apparently the only paying guest is trapped along with the aquarium staff and the visiting local Senator and his assistant.

A woman wearing scrubs and a white labcoat clutches her face, starfish on and around her body as they attack her.

It becomes obvious fairly soon that the octopus is not the only afflicted creature–whatever mysterious illness reanimated it is targeting all of the animals. With the emergency lockdown in place, no one can get in our out…which feels like a flawed system, honestly.

As two parties navigate an aquarium filled with all manner of creatures that have busted out, including crocodiles, dolphins, sharks, and starfish, head of security Clu (Vivica A. Fox) desperately attempts to restore power. Partly for dramatic effect, but realistically because if Vivica A. Fox agrees to be in a movie like this, you know for damn sure it’s written into her contract that she’ll do one stunt max.

A character played by Vivica A. Fox holds a flashlight and walkie talkie, looking concerned.

The plan becomes essentially to make it to a different quadrant so the octopus on the loose can be tracked as the survivors attempt their escape. Will there be tragic losses that aren’t particularly convincing? You may as well ask if there will be fairly low tier giant CGI crabs. Of course there fucking will be.

The Rating:

2.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Look, there’s not a lot going on in terms of coherent plot. Would an aquarium really meet fire safety code if it had locks designed not to work in case of power failure? In terms of the virus, there’s not much explanation for how the virus works…including why it seems to affect every species except for humans. And why the infected animals don’t turn on each other? I could over-analyze this all day, y’all.

A few other observations (I will spare you every single one):

  • there’s a debate of who would win in a fight–shark vs. octopus, but no fucking shark/octopus encounter in the entire film!
  • this aquarium has serious financial problems if they seem to have one paying guest during their open hours, and not a single person trying to get in during their emergency lockdown
  • unclear if/how the aquarium will ever reopen given the massive damages it suffers through the course of the film
  • I hope Skyler’s family sues, honestly
  • Vivica A. Fox deserved better in this film. Realistically, she deserves better than this film.
  • Madeleine Falk as Dr. Karen James should get credit for her commitment to the role of woman attacked by starfish, as she puts more into this scene than strictly required.

However, for all of my complaints, I will say that this does what it says on the tin. I enjoyed this much more than many other similar B movies, and I always appreciate when films like this manage to tread the line (mostly) well. We get a lot of schlocky action with zombie aquatic animals, and there’s a decent amount of creativity in terms of the creatures and their attacks. Admittedly a share of the deaths are underwhelming, but I appreciate the effort anyway.

This barely fits into Shark Month, and the shark scenes are actually a bit boring. That being said, it comes close to the silly fun of some of our favorite shark picks, and I’m willing to give credit for that.

Would my blog wife take an axe to a giant crab for this one or leave it to sleep with the zombie fishes? Find out in her review!

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