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Fin Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Premiered on Discovery+

fin poster large

Directed by Eli Roth
2021, 100 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on Discovery+ on July 13th, 2021

Eli Roth as Himself

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I don’t know what I expected to get out of writing a review for Fin. I was obviously excited for anything from horror master Eli Roth, and the fact that it’s a Shark Week documentary is a big bonus as my wife is batshit crazy over Jaws. An Eli Roth doc about illegal shark fishing? That sounds so righteously unexpected that I jumped on the assignment. I expected first-rate filmmaking with a sharp eye and a lack of bullshit or fluff. I expected to learn something. I expected to be getting my Shark Week on, in other words!

What I didn’t expect was Eli Roth’s most horrifying film to date. I didn’t expect the outrage, screaming, and even angry tears. I didn’t expect knowledge that literally can never be unlearned and images that can’t be unseen. I can say without a trace of hyperbole that I was not prepared for what Eli Roth hit me with. And all this from a guy who’s never been a “save the animals” type of person.

I suppose I should’ve known better. Eli Roth has given us the cinematic joy that is “torture porn” with the Hostel series. He went back into the jungle for a stupidly graphic love letter to the Italian Cannibal subgenre with The Green Inferno. He made dicks fall off with Cabin Fever and enriched our lives with The Bear Jew. The man doesn’t even know how to define the concept of pulling a punch; he’s going to show you things you can’t look away from. It’s what we love about him in the horror community.

So, yeah…I should have known.

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The documentary opens with an extremely keyed-up Eli Roth on a boat surrounded by men with AK-47s. They’re boarding an illegal fishing boat, and the noise from inside is less than pleasant. It’s a strong open that sets the structure for a journey that looks at both sides, inside and out, of the illegal shark fishing industry and the process of “finning” sharks off all species for the supposed delicacy that is shark fin soup.

This is no one-sided hatchet job, however – the dedication to objective journalism and (dare I say it?) fair and balanced investigation is admirable as hell. He spends time with the local fisherman, folks who are just trying to earn a living. He infiltrates shops that sell endangered shark fins. There’s the aforementioned raid with the crew of Sea Shepherd and the Liberian Coast Guard. For Christ’s sake, the man even does a blind taste test with authentic shark fin soup and the increasingly popular synthetic soup that harms zero sharks! I don’t know if I’ve ever screamed at the TV that much when I wasn’t watching a Clemson football game.

There are plenty of helpful links and sources throughout (and in the credits) that’ll help you dig further into the issue. That’s a wonderful touch that pairs well with the simple ways that everyone can help. Fin does an incredible job of educating while providing truly easy ways to be sure you aren’t contributing to the complex and multifaceted epidemic. Great pains are taken to ensure that you understand that there is no one villain…and that it truly does affect all of us. Sharks are ludicrously important creatures to the planet as a whole.

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If you are a hardened gorehound (and presumably you are to some degree if you’re reading this), you’ll still be shocked and appalled at the scenes of shark finning performed at sea. It’s grotesque, the kind of authentic horror that has no equal or substitute. For that matter, the state of the whole operation makes the bathroom in Saw look like the crapper in the penthouse of a five-star Dubai hotel. It’s one of those deals where you think you’re desensitized properly until you see it. You’re not.

If you’re tender, there are three or four occasions where you probably shouldn’t watch. I’m not being flippant or cute when I say that. You’ll see what I mean.

Fin does what the best documentaries do – it lights a fire under you and compels you to dig deeper. As an added bonus, Eli Roth has a built-in audience that makes the project even more special because the horror community is the most empathetic you’re likely to find anywhere. It’s an essential documentary, one that uses unflinching, ugly truth in the hands of a highly skilled horror auteur to horrify you in a different way than some will be ready for. I damn sure wasn’t.

Much of the power in the film comes from Roth himself. Passion doesn’t lie; it literally cannot. His eyes tell a range of stories, and you feel those stories because you’re wearing the same expression. Fin is not a documentary you can walk away from unaffected by. It’s that strong. It’s that well made. There’s zero bullshit, and no one can complain about that.

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Movie: 5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer - USA
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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