The Tank Poster

The Tank (2023) Review

Set in 1978, The Tank opens with Ben (Matt Whelan, American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story, Under the Vines) getting some news about his deceased mother. It appears his father left her coastal property in Hobbit’s Bay, Oregon that she never told anyone about. He also finds out that rather than dying in a car accident, his father and sister drowned in said bay. 

Of course, you or I know better than to go near something like that because it never ends well. Ben, of course, packs up his wife Jules (Luciane Buchanan, The New Legends of Monkey, Stray) and their daughter Reia (Zara Nausbaum, The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith) and goes to check it out. 

Writer/director Scott Walker (The Frozen Ground, Ordan’s Forest) does throw a switch at viewers by having the house actually look like it’s been abandoned for decades. Boarded up, weathered, and overgrown with vines and other vegetation on the outside, lacking power, dank and dusty inside. But it does have a beautiful view of the coast. It also has a water tank that looks a lot like the one from the prologue.

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That’s about it for surprises, though, as Walker takes The Tank down a familiar path. Newspaper clippings about deaths and disappearances, strange noises in the night, Jules has nightmares, Ben cuts his hand while working in the water tank, and gets blood in the water. Even worse, he finds what looks like “some kind of amphibian larvae”.

All of this is handled well, Walker and cinematographer Aaron Morton (Orphan Black, 30 Days of Night) get great mileage out of the house, the water tank, and the cave that runs behind the tank. It’s all very atmospheric with a few jumps mixed in, but it’s also very familiar as well, and you’ll be recognizing familiar tropes fairly often.

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Walker also manages to keep things interesting despite having such a small cast. After the lawyer leaves in the opening minutes until Merial (Ascia Maybury, Spies and Lies, Bombshell), a realtor sent by the lawyer arrives around the forty-five-minute mark, it’s mostly a two-character film with the occasional appearance by Reia or a flashback to add some variety to the proceedings.

Thankfully, The Tank delivers a tense and occasionally bloody final act as the creature, which looks a bit like the monster in Roger Corman’s Forbidden World, makes itself known. Unfortunately, the small cast somewhat holds things back here as the script has to bring in some obvious Purina Monster Chow who we don’t know and don’t really care about. They do die real good, though.

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Although it’s set in Oregon, The Tank was filmed in New Zealand and features practical effects by WETA which are so much better than CGI. Apart from a few versions of the creatures, there are some chewed-up bodies, although beyond that not a lot of violence/bloody images that got it its “R” rating. That’s a disappointment as I was hoping for a bit more carnage.

But apart from that, there’s not a lot to complain about. Yes, The Tank is quite unoriginal, and you’ll be able to recognize where many of the plot elements came from, Aliens, The Descent, and Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift among them. But, as I said in another recent review, if you can’t find a new angle for an old story, you need to tell it really well. And it does just that. And stick around for a mid-credits scene that hints at where the story might go next.

Well Go USA will release The Tank theatrically on April 21st. It will be available via VOD and Digital Platforms on April 25th. You can check their website for more information. And if that’s not enough monster mayhem for you, FilmTagger can recommend some more titles.

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