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Review: She Creature (2001)

She Creature (2001)

Directed by: Sebastian Gutierrez

Premise: Set in the early 1900s, a pair of carnies (Rufus Sewell and Carla Gugino) abducts a mermaid and transports her by ship across the Atlantic. On the voyage, crew members start to disappear.

What Works: She Creature is a low budget, made-for-television monster movie. It is reminiscent of the Roger Corman pictures of the 1960s and 70s like Piranha and Humanoids from the Deep, but in a good way. The filmmakers have not gone about making She Creature ironically, which has the effect of elevating this film above the recent self-conscious examples in the genre. The actors and the filmmakers take the picture seriously and it shows in the quality achieved in the film. She Creature has a sense of the dramatic, spinning a monster story with well-rounded human characters whose encounters with the fantastic are complicated by their own human failings and emotional subplots. The filmmakers also demonstrate a good sense of showmanship; the picture is well shot, using shadows very effectively, and it is able to achieve an atmosphere of dread that many contemporary horror films lack. The creature is revealed slowly, allowing the mystery of the mermaid to build over the course of the film, the violence is done largely by implication, and the transformation scenes utilize a lot of old school, in-camera techniques. She Creature may not achieve the levels of cinematic achievement of a film like Alien but it does exceed a lot of the deliberately goofy trash released lately such as Sharktopus and Mega Piranha or bigger budgeted, mainstream homages like Piranha 3-D and Planet Terror. The end result is something in between, ranking in the company of genuine cult classics like Tremors and Pumpkinhead.

What Doesn’t: She Creature is ultimately a low budget made-for-TV film and viewers should keep that in mind. It borrows from the style, scale, and production values of Tales from the Crypt (and to a lesser extent The Twilight Zone), and it plays like an extended episode of those television shows. The film is a little padded to achieve feature length and the pacing in the middle of the film gets a little slow, although it picks up nicely in the end. 

DVD extras: Commentary track, a featurette, and a photo gallery.

Bottom Line: She Creature isn’t groundbreaking or a classic but it is a lot of fun and satisfyingly creepy. On a modest budget, the filmmakers behind She Creature tell the same kind of fantastic tale that Hollywood studios produce for hundreds of millions of dollars and She Creature does it considerably better.

Episode: #342 (June 5, 2011)