When something strange is going on in a sea, a couple of fishermen accidently bring back infected fish to their small community. The fish infects people and turns them into a fleah-eating ghouls - and a local brothel just got a large batch of the fish for their perverted customers and workers to eat.
Yes, I know, "Dark Sea" is an appropriate title to go with for this review, but I am already too used to "Mar Negro" to change. It was the same thing with Aragão's "Mangue Negro" a few years back - that has ended up being the title I use. Now, prior to this one Aragão also made "The Night of the Chupacabras", a less splattery movie - but double the creature feature. With "Mar Negro" he returns to a little bit of both, starting out with a damn perfect creature feature sequence, and slowly going into a blood-packed zombie fest (much like "Mangue Negro").
As good of a reason as any to turn into zombies, a couple of local fishermen bring back some infected fish after a fishing-trip-gone-wrong. You see, they also got a large mermaid-monster in the net which they had to fight to death first. In a brilliantly atmospheric and fun opening, they're attacked by a fish creature that looks like a mix of the Gill Man and the fully evolved monster in "Class of Nuke 'Em High" (and throw in tits for good measure). You're now fully prepared for some bad ass monster action - but the movie slows down after this opening, and it becomes clear that it's more of a zombie flick. The fishermen return and locals slowly turn into the rotting, living, eating dead. Our focus is on a brothel, where a congressman is currently visiting to make sure it's good enough for his endorsement.
I was aware that this was a zombie film, but when the opening came on I forgot for a second and just prayed that it would stay this way. It truly woke the monster loving kid in me, and they managed to make an equally atmospheric as intense scene right there. When the movie switches over to its actual intentions it's still a very enjoyable movie, but zombie movies are a bit more frequent. But Rodrigo Aragão knows exactly how to get his zombie movies to feel more like "Braindead" and less like... you know, most modern ones. When Rodrigo Aragão does a zombie movie, he does it with creativity. We saw this in "Mangue Negro", and we see it again in "Mar Negro". Frankly, these are zombie films that can go anywhere. In this case it goes to a quite far-out ending, but before that we're treated to a bald transvestite with a minigun shooting down zombies in a bloodbath scene. Yeah, that's what you can expect - but without going to the silly heights of some Japanese movies (which it might sound like at first read).
The effects are a ton of fun, and the use of colored lights keeps it fresh in nearly every scene. I did react to a few shortcuts in the effects department in this one, where they'll rather go for simply splashing blood instead of getting actual bullet holes (or whatever they are hit with). In some scenes you miss it, but at other times you see a spotless (but extremely bloody) chest after a dozen or more shots. It's distracting once you think about it, but in most cases you don't have the time to. The actual prosthetics and masks are great, they've managed to give the creatures living eyes which is quite the challenge, and the zombies are the real rotten, slimey kind. It's easy to forgive the lesser moments due to the good ones.
I think this is a superior movie to "The Night of the Chupacabras", but didn't entertain me quite as much as "Mar Negro". It's definitely his most technically advanced movie and it looks better than the other two combined. There's no doubt that this is a director who stays with his roots but improves it on a technical level. Rodrigo Aragão reminds me of Olaf Ittenbach, except that Aragão's movies are actually fun enough to cover the bad aspects. You should absolutely watch this if you want a zombie splatter because Aragão might be one of the better at it right now. Especially if you want entertainment rather than scares. While this is a very fun movie, there are a few filler scenes makes it drag and I think a tighter runtime would have made it better. It's insane as it is, but had it been shorter than it'd be such a bang that you wouldn't forget it. It's bloody, creative, crazy splatter fun, but far from a perfect movie.