Tank, The (2023) (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stephen Bjork
  • Review Date: Sep 06, 2023
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Tank, The (2023) (Blu-ray Review)


Scott Walker

Release Date(s)

2023 (June 27, 2023)


Well Go USA Entertainment
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: D+

The Tank (2023) (Blu-ray)

Buy it Here!


Writer/producer/director Scott Walker’s The Tank is proof positive that traditional creature features are alive and well, even in the modern computer graphics era. Whatever limitations that prosthetic and animatronic effects may have, they still have that lovely tactile quality that CGI lacks. There’s a good reason why classic low-budget monster movies are so much fun regardless of how cheaply that the effects may have been produced, and that usually comes down to the makeup itself. It may be different for younger generations who were raised on CGI, but for anyone who grew up poring over magazines like Fangoria, Cinefantastique, or Famous Monsters of Filmland, trying to glean every last detail about how their favorite creatures were created, there’s no substitute for the real thing. Of course, in Walker’s case, it helps that he was shooting in New Zealand, with Richard Taylor and Wētā Workshop at his back door. Wētā Digital may get all of the attention these days, but the crew at Wētā Workshop are still taking care of business, as The Tank demonstrates.

Walker’s story for The Tank offers a fairly standard creature feature setup, and he set it in 1978 in order to avoid the narrative issues that modern conveniences like cell phones would have created. Jules (Luciane Buchanan) and Ben (Matt Whelan) are a couple who run a pet shop in Oregon. Ben’s mother had passed away a few months previously, but a lawyer shows up at their store one morning to say that they just uncovered an old deed proving that he inherited a long-forgotten coastal property. Jules and Ben take their daughter Reia (Zara Nausbaum) out to the remote location, where they find a run-down house with a large water tank out back. Ben climbs down into it to explore, and he inadvertently unleashes forces of nature that had best been left untouched. Cut off from the rest of the world, they’re forced to fight for their lives while trying to figure out a way to escape the menace.

While The Tank runs a relatively brief 100 minutes, it still takes its time for a leisurely setup, and Walker doesn’t reveal his monster until he’s good and ready to do so. That may prove a bit slow-paced for modern audiences, but Walker was more interested in creating a mood than he was in getting straight to the good stuff. The creature itself is a fairly simple design, although the reasons why are intimated during the prologue at the pet store, and it’s also filmed and edited effectively in order to hide its basic woman-in-suit configuration. There aren’t any real surprises in The Tank, right down to the Aliens-inspired finale—although Walker does at least throw in one red herring by deliberately setting up a Chekhov’s gun that he never actually pays off. The measured pace of The Tank and its predictable nature may not be for all tastes, but Buchanan and Whelan do make appealing leads (especially Buchanan), so there’s more than enough here of interest for fans of classic creature features.

Cinematographer Aaron Morton captured The Tank digitally, framed at 2.39:1. According to IMDb, he used Sony CineAlta Venice cameras with Caldwell Chameleon anamorphic lenses, but there’s an ARRI camera visible just 12 seconds into the first featurette on the disc, so there’s IMDb for you. There’s no other information available about capture resolutions or post-production work, although it’s likely that the film was completed as a 2K Digital Intermediate. Much of The Tank features an intentionally desaturated look, with even the costume design and the sets deliberately avoiding bright colors such as reds, yellows, or oranges. There’s still a contrasting color scheme at play, with scenes lit by candlelight or lanterns offering a warmer glow to set them apart from the cooler surrounding material, and the flashbacks are all heavily blue-filtered. The contrast range is strong and the black levels are deep, and while both can suffer a bit during some of the darkest scenes, that’s how they were captured (don’t look for shadow detail here where there never was any to begin with). There’s a bit of noise at times, especially during some of those dark shots, but once again that’s inherent to the original photography.

Audio is offered in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, with optional English SDH subtitles. There’s a consistent sense of envelopment throughout, and not just for environments like the interior of the water tank. The early scene at the pet store immerses the viewer with the calls of various animals, and there’s plenty of scary noises coming from all channels when the family is being stalked inside the house. Needless to say, the tank itself is filled with the sounds of dripping water and other ambient effects. There’s not much deep bass present, but it isn’t really necessary (this particular monster is anything but a giant one). The score by Max Aruj is pretty straightforward for this kind of material, but it’s well-reproduced here.

Well go USA’s Blu-ray release of The Tank includes a slipcover that matches the artwork on the insert. The following extras are included, all of them in HD. Note that three of the trailers are forced up front when playing the disc, but they can still be selected via the menu as well. As with most Well Go USA discs, all of the extras will play consecutively after selecting any one of them:

  • A Look Into The Tank (3:25)
  • Making the Creature (5:21)
  • Trailer (2:19)
  • Bone Cold Trailer (1:33)
  • Forgotten Experiment Trailer (2:28)
  • The Siege Trailer (1:49)

Aside from the trailer, there’s only two brief extras on the disc, not quite totaling nine minutes between them. A Look Into The Tank is a perfunctory making-of featurette that includes interviews with Walker, Luciane Buchanan, Matt Whelan, and Zara Nausbaum. Walker explains that the whole project arose out of the lockdown during the pandemic, when a friend offered a remote house as a place for him to sit things out. The house had a water tank out back, and after exploring it, he had nightmares about it that formed the basis of The Tank. (He says that he’s always been drawn to monster stories, and his dreams seem to prove that fact.) Making the Creature features Walker along with Richard Taylor and Petteri Mäkinen of Wētā Workshop, as well as suit performer Regina Hegemann. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they couldn’t easily do a full body cast of Hegemann, so they relied on cyberscans instead, and it was the first time that they ever 3D-printed all of the prosthetics.

That’s not much, but it’s still a step above the usual Well Go USA releases that offer nothing but trailers. Forward progress is always progress, however small that it may be. It’s a good encode of a quality master, too, so their Blu-ray of The Tank is worth a look for fans of the genre.

- Stephen Bjork

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