...particularly if you're casting a movie in Canada.
The movie itself is actually better than expected. No, it does not deliver on the promise made by the box art (which is great if you happen to have any fondness for the cheat art they used to use on Italian Jaws rip-offs in the eighties), so gore fans are bound to be disappointed, but some care has been taken in the writing of the two main characters, and Castillo's character even turns out to be a bit of mystery, which adds much needed intrigue to what would otherwise be a pretty straightforward (and probably actionable) remake of Peter Benchley's The Beast. But, pleasantly, this turns out to be a much more enjoyable film than the adaptation of that book, and a large part of the reason for that is down to the casting of an actress I'd never heard of before.
In one of the lead roles as the Metis fisheries officer, I was first struck by how realistically pretty Alexandra Castillo is -- and by pretty I mean attractive in a human kind of way, not at all the kind of plastic-surgery addicted anorexic horror we're used to seeing in these things. Which was the first surprise.
The second surprise was when she began interacting with the rest of the cast -- who range from okay to pretty bad -- and seemed ABSOLUTELY natural. It literally caused me to sit up and take notice of what I'd assumed was going to be a complete waste of time. James Vanderbeek, the second best actor in the cast, gives her more to work with, and the skill with which she handles her scenes with him is pretty remarkable. She managed to convince even when it meant fighting through the dialogue, which she had to do from time to time. (Though, to be honest, the script was much better than anyone renting this thing has any right to expect, and at no point does anyone say those -- I thought -- inevitable lines regarding the necessity of getting either a bigger boat and/or gun).
I don't know. Maybe there's a problem when you notice the acting -- maybe it should be an invisible art in film, and like the editing or the direction itself it fails if it draws attention to itself. Perversely, every time Ms. Castillo gave me the sense that I wasn't watching an actor, but a completely natural human being, it sort of drew me up short and popped me out of the story long enough to chuckle my pleasure at what she'd just pulled off with such ease. Except it probably wasn't easy, was it? Yes, the special effects in this thing were pathetic, even in comparison to that Peter Benchley's Beast thing, but this little film, with Ms. Castillo's help, proved to me yet again that the small pleasures of even one really good performance, and some obvious care in the writing of the script (which deserves applause even when it doesn't always work out), trump the hell out of a better giant squid in another lesser film.
Right about now I'd be asking myself if this reviewer isn't either related to Alexandra Castillo or wishing to be. No. But someone should congratulate her on her work, and someone else should put her in a better movie. Her five star performance earns this two star video three stars.