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MOVIE REVIEW: The Shape of Water (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Shape of Water (2017)

One of the most talked about horror movies in 2017 was Universal’s attempted reboot of the Mummy. Sadly it was also one of the worst horror movies of 2017 and was a horror movie in name only, and pretty much slammed the coffin lid on Universal’s Dark Universe. So we get left with what if, and the biggest “what if” of all, what if Guillermo Del Toro had taken the reins of the horror universe. Well, The Shape of Water might give us some clue about what that lost universe might have looked like.

he Shape of Water poster

Movie poster from The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water, Del Toro’s ode to the Creature of the Black Lagoon (at least superficially and unofficially) isn’t exactly a horror movie itself. However, it is a beautiful, thought-provoking Gothic romance, with a few elements of horror thrown in for good measure. No, it may not be horror, but it does make us wonder how beautiful a Del Toro Creature From the Black Lagoon would look, or a Frankenstein, or yes, even a reboot of The Mummy, with or without Tom Cruise.

The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins (Godzilla, King of Monsters) as Eliza, a mute cleaning lady. She works at a government research center in Baltimore during the cold war. She lives a boring life until the Gillman (for lack of a better term) is dragged into the lab, and into her life by Colonel Richard Richard Strickland. Developing a rapport with the creature, she decides to save it from torture and death at the hands of Strickland and the scientists. And that’s where it gets groovy ladies and gents.

Just to cut through the BS, The Shape of Water is hands down the best horror movie of the year, even if it’s not that much of a horror movie. Hey, if Get Out is a comedy, then we can claim this as a horror movie. It’s been nominated for seven Golden Globes, and will almost definitely be an Oscar hit as well. The film has a stellar cast with Shannon, Richard Jenkins (Bone Tomahawk), Nick Searcy (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), and Del Toro favorite Doug Jones (Hellboy, not the Senator) as the creature from the, umm, from this movie. They all do their usual great job, but Hawkins is the standout.

Without using words, for most of the movie anyway, she conveys all the pain, and unhappiness of being alone, of being an outcast. And this is a story about outcasts, Hawkins is an outcast, Spencer as her closeted gay roommate and friend is an outcast, her coworker (Octavia Spencer) is an outcast, the Russian spy is an outcast, the creature is an outcast, even the main villain Strickland is a bit of an outcast.

It’s also a movie about xenophobia, fear or hatred of the different (actual foreigners but close enough). The government fears the Russians, Strickland hates and fears the creature, the gay man fears, or at least is indifferent to, the civil rights struggle of black people and the one black character hates short people (although it’s played for laughs. The only person who appears not to suffer from this is Eliza (and Gillman to some extent). The heroes overcome their isolation and fear, Strickland cannot and is literally destroyed by it.

As with all GDT films, The Shape of Water is a visual treat. It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Color plays an important part in the film, just as it did in Crimson Peak. In The Shape of Water it’s green, with red being used sparingly and in the background. I wish I was smart enough to tell you the exact symbolism of the color used in The Shape of Water, but I’m still working on it myself.

Gillman eyes an egg

Gillman eyes an egg

Right now, The Shape of Water is still not an extremely wide release, which is sad, especially since both showings I have been to have been packed, so you will have to search a bit, and maybe take a drive to see it. It’s worth the effort though. However, be warned, this probably isn’t a movie for the kids. Unless you want to have to explain the birds and the bees (and the lizards). There’s only a little violence and tiny amount of gore (the one scene might disturb kids or sensitive people, but there is a decent amount of nudity, including full frontal female nudity and some cross-species “relations”, though nothing explicit, it’s easy to know what’s going down. If you can find it, make the effort; you won’t be disappointed.


Posted by Allen Alberson in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments