Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick…Harry Kerwin and Wayne Crawford’s Barracuda.
To start things off Barracuda is very much your standard aquatic nature run amok film. It came out just three years after Jaws and it really shows, opening up with barracudas attacking anyone who happens to be swimming in their domain. As the film continues and the reason for the fish being so aggressive is revealed our characters are caught up in a bit of a conspiracy and things just go downhill from there.
The biggest problem with this movie is just how boring it is. The first scene is promising enough with a pretty gory death, lots of blood, and a severed hand left floating in the water. However after this it’s another half an hour until we see the barracudas again. To fill that time we’re left getting to know the characters, but none of them are particularly interesting or well-developed, and at least a few are just downright unlikable. For most of the film they spend their time arguing about what’s going on as the bodies pile up, and they all seem just a little too clueless. Missing people? Dead fish washing up on shore? An abandoned truck? You’d think they’d at least have a clue that there’s something in the water.
Making matters worse, the acting certainly isn’t anything to write home about. For most of the main cast it’s bearable, but when you get to some of the side characters or extras it’s downright atrocious. There’s one scene in particular involving a car accident that’s just the absolute worst.
What’s more, is that for a movie called Barracuda it sure does have a serious lack of barracudas in it. I thought I knew what to expect going in, but the film takes a sharp left turn about halfway through. As I mentioned before the whole reason behind the fish beasts is a big conspiracy, and as that begins to unravel the picture focuses on that aspect far more than it does on the actual fish. This could have been an interesting and unexpected turn of events, but we never even really get a satisfying climax that includes the barracudas and it all just amounts to a lame shoot out at the end.
I’m not sure if it was budget constraints or what, but the movie doesn’t show us all that much action. It just plods along at a snail’s pace and never ramps up to anything worth talking about. And that’s a shame, because the few death scenes that we do get are actually pretty decent. They’re relatively bloody, with bones and severed limbs floating in red water. They utilize actual fish along with some pretty good-looking puppets and edit the whole thing together in a really chaotic way that turns out pretty convincing. There’s even some fish-POV shots tossed in for good measure.
Overall the film is directed and shot competently, but there’s nothing really noteworthy in this department. The score is pretty interesting, though I’m not sure if it actually helps the movie. It’s really strange and dissonant, giving a weird uncomfortable feeling, but only really hitting one note no matter what’s happening. While I kind of like how bizarre the music is, it definitely puts the atmosphere in a bad place. Things just feel…wrong.
Barracuda is just too painfully boring and forgettable to bother with. The appearances of the actual barracudas are few and far between, and the characters and conspiracy plot aren’t interesting enough to fill the gap. Just don’t. This movie is a waste of time.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.