May 12, 2011


“From the depths of the Earth it will rise!” Sounds like the world’s impending doom has been brought to our television screens again. Buildings crashing, roads splitting, rocks tumbling, people screaming, mysteries wavering, science absolute, and a monster exasperating. Underneath all of the rubble, only one thing remains: too many questions. If Behemoth is to be the end of the world, was it meant to be this unreasonable and pathetic? Hit the jump for my full review.

Somewhere in North America (they never say where) lies Ascension, a small town at the foot dormant volcano Mount Lincoln. Its inhabitants have experienced small tremors from time to time, but when local seismologist Emily Green (Cindy Busby) gets unusual readings of the plates shifting under the mountain, she suspects something is up. Thomas Walsh (Ed Quinn), a logger, also believes something isn’t right when one of his coworkers dies unexpectedly on the job. News has it that the rest of the world is dealing with unprecedented natural disasters as well, and Thomas’s father, William Walsh (William B. Davis), a former college professor, is obsessed with the idea that these are signs of a beast awakening to bring the apocalypse upon mankind. It turns out he’s right: they soon discover that these natural disasters aren’t being caused by something natural at all, but something more monstrous than they imagined.behemoth-poster

Outside of stale acting, there’s nothing to hate about these benign characters, who treat each other like family. Like mice in a maze, you can only watch them struggle, pitying them as they run around looking for answers. They are brought up with an incomplete back story, and seem very incompetent. Any authority in this film feels like children doing dress up, as Sheriff Matt Allington (played by Gary Chalk) is a prime example: he’s always walking down the same sidewalk, doubting everyone and believing everything is hunky dory. Unless that’s suppose to be sarcastic, it was played out wrong. Even in their present situation, they jumble with their dialog, and almost none of it is relevant.

References are made about the Mayans and their beliefs about the world’s end, but the topic becomes completely arbitrary. Is Ascension from Mayan descent? Is this the monster that the Mayans believed to exist? Nothing is confirmed, and there’s only suspicion left to reason. A potentially huge sub-plot involving the government’s awareness of this astronomical creature is also left dangling: after a geologist team goes silent, agent Jack Murray (played by Ty Olsson) is sent to find them and recover an important weapon they carried with them. Assisted by Thomas (who agreed so willingly to help this shady agent, and for no reason either), Jack reluctantly only gets to explain half the story before he’s killed by the serpent, and even then, we learn nothing about the government’s involvement. Mystery with no imagination is a story’s way of torturing its victims.

behemoth-image-01Understanding the nature of this creature is incomprehensible. Its indescribable features leave no explanation as to how it gets around, and the kind of anatomy it has is anyone’s guess. Believing it burrows through the ground makes sense, until you see it at the end, which looks like an octopus with a neck. But nothing is worse than seeing this beast toy with the characters as it randomly strikes them with earthquakes, its limbs, or tries to eat them. What kind of savage monster kills one person, but leaves the other? Its whole existence conflicts with all reason, as it leaves us with only one question: Was it supposed to be scary? Having an escalating musical score was helpful, but these scenes drag out so long, that it’s no doubt a serious waste of time. If it’s supposed to make me dumbfounded and laugh, they did an excellent job.

This monster simply bit off more than it can chew. Terrorizing a single town is one thing, but imagining this one creature, sitting there in a volcano, causing “apocalyptic disaster across the planet” becomes a misinterpreted punch line to a good joke. If anything, this worm made humanity realize one thing: that the world’s doom wasn’t meant to be this unreasonable, and should be left in the claws of a more capable brute.

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