Written by: Matt Patti | November 7th, 2023
The Loch Ness Horror (Tyler-James, 2023) 1½ out of 4 stars.
The Loch Ness Monster has always been a fascinating mystery, not only to folks of Scotland but around the world in general. Something about that infamous eerie photo of a dinosaur-like creature in a lake in the Scottish Highlands has unnerved and intrigued people for years. Even today the mythical creature remains popular. In fact, the largest expedition in search of the Loch Ness Monster in over 50 years just occurred this past August. So, clearly, interest is still at a high level for this classic cryptid.
Perhaps capitalizing on the recent buzz or simply by pure coincidence, director Tyler-James’ The Loch Ness Horror is out now. In the film, a group sets out on an expedition on the Loch Ness. There’s some merit to note, but in the end The Loch Ness Horror disappoints.
The film begins with a submarine crew deep underneath Lake Loch Ness that encounter the Loch Ness Monster, causing the sub to crash. Sometime later, a group of scientists joins a boating crew to find out exactly what happened to the folks on board that submarine. Little do they know the horror that awaits them at the bottom of the lake.
The Loch Ness Horror begins with what I believe is a cardinal sin in filmmaking, especially in creature-features. The opening scene reveals, in full, the Loch Ness Monster, leaving little to the imagination for the rest of the film. The creature design is decent, I’ll admit. But only showing a partial view, or not showing the monster at all, helps build more suspense to an actual reveal.
After that introductory scene, we are introduced to our main cast. Ava (May Kelly, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey) and her fellow scientists are recruited to help find the missing crew from the beginning of the film. The scientists are not briefed on the actual events that happened to that crew, leading to some quality reveals and surprises, if only on their part and not the viewer’s.
One aspect of The Loch Ness Horror that does impress and that I didn’t expect from a creature-feature is the struggle between humans. At the very end of the first act, the group onboard the rescue ship are at odds with each other, leading to some tense drama before the real danger appears. Having a second source of conflict is admirable in a film like this, but the tension quickly dissipates when the ship is being attacked.
Also, unfortunately, most of the characters all blend together, especially Ava and her fellow scientists. The audience will find it difficult to distinguish any of them from one another outside of physical appearance as they are very basic, stock characters that do not have any outstanding personality traits. Just when the viewer is beginning to realize this, the Loch Ness Monster shows up. However, what should be a welcome arrival is an underwhelming one, as the filmmakers somehow find a way to make the Loch Ness Monster the complete opposite of intimidating. So many classic creature-features are excellent at giving their monsters menacing, terrifying entrances. The same cannot be said here, as each time the monster appears it does so in a sudden, rushed manner akin to a gopher quickly sticking its head out of a hole.
While the creature design for the monster is done well, there are many other technical aspects that are very poorly realized. The sound design for the Loch Ness Monster leaves much to be desired, for example. Also, in terms of technical shortcomings, the film is riddled with very artificial-looking animations, subpar effects work, and horrid editing as characters walk away from spaces only to morph back to their previous spot immediately afterwards.
It is worth noting that the cinematography is of fair quality, the performances are all fine, and there are some tense sequences. However, the film can’t get out of its own way. The ending doesn’t even feel like a conclusion, as it actually comes off as if someone lost the footage of the final scene(s), leading to an immensely unsatisfying end. Overall, with bland characters that are indistinguishable, a monster that isn’t the least bit scary, and some egregious technical gaffes, The Loch Ness Horror drowns in its own mess.