Dagon (2001) [31 Days of Gore]

In Dagon, two couples are vacationing on a yacht off the coast of Spain where a storm shipwrecks them all. The young couple, Barbara and Paul, race to the shore in an inflatable raft to get help. Once there, Paul enlists the help of local fishermen while Barbara seeks a phone at a hotel. Yet when the fishermen take Paul back to the shipwreck, he discovers his companions are gone and the water filling the boat is now red with blood.

Back on shore, Paul discovers Barbara has gone missing, too. When he inquires about her at the hotel, he’s attacked by a mob of locals. They all appear human, but their webbed hands give them away. It’s not long before he discovers they’re monsters wearing the skin of humans. I love mysteries like this, which often have the human characters repeating, “What the fuck?!”

The only thing wrong with Dagon is it’s cheap. Like, SyFy movie-of-the-week cheap. The sleek ugliness and the overall phoniness of the early 2000s is stamped all over it. You can tell the actors didn’t get much time (if any) to rehearse. Meanwhile, some of the CGI couldn’t have been more distracting if a child had finger painted it.

But look past all the superficial stuff, including horrendous dialogue, and you get a Lovecraft movie that’s almost as fun as Necronomicon or The Resurrected. I don’t think anyone would have blamed director Stuart Gordon for phoning this one in, considering the circumstances, but it’s clear he didn’t. Many directors who had to endure the misguided trends of the era gave up on making good movies, yet Gordon fights through it with enthusiastic energy that saves the movie from sinking. The editing ain’t bad, either, considering what they were working with.

The monsters are genuinely creepy and the premise draws you in. I love movies that allow mystery to drive the plot. I just wish it didn’t look so shitty.

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