Mohamed Hesham El-Rashidy's Mako makes efforts to tell us that things are not what they initially seem to be. At an award function, we first see Rana (Basma) accepting an award and thanking her husband. In the car, we notice how she removes her hand as soon as her husband, Sherif (Nicolas Mouawad), touches her. Was that speech just an act to show the world how great her relationship is with her husband? It's soon revealed that Rana's bitterness arose from the fact that there was some confusion during the ceremony, and it was Sherif who won the award given to her. This La La Land/Moonlight type of mistake turns Rana into a meme when she falls down while walking away from the stage.
The rift you see between the husband and the wife leads you to expect something along the lines of a relationship drama. But Mako again changes directions and throws Rana and her documentary crew into the water for horror. The seeds for the horror are planted through a scene where some people attempt to capture a shark. That aquatic animal with its sharp teeth chews on the flesh of the documentary crew one by one. The character who takes all of them into the water body is Gharam (Nahed El Sebaï). Of course, like everything else in the film, there is more to her than the fact that she is an enthusiastic new applicant.
Gharam informs the filmmakers about Salem Express, a ship that sank long ago. Its victims were disrespected and robbed by tomb raiders, after which negative energy engulfed the site. Gharam suggests making a documentary on Salem Express, and Rana quickly accepts the idea and makes plans for the travel as she desperately wants to win the award in the next ceremony.
As soon as the characters wear scuba diving gear and immerse themselves in the water, it becomes a bit difficult to distinguish between their faces unless they are referred to by their names. But your inability to recognize their faces also speaks to the disposable quality of the characters. In a movie like this, people are assembled only to be killed one after the other. It doesn't matter if someone wants an award, has a strained relationship or takes drugs. In the end, a movie like Mako is solely interested in delivering one message: Everyone is bad, and we reveal the evil within us during stressful situations.
If you talk back to the film and say, "Tell me something I don't know," it will reply, "I am just a B-movie. Don't expect greatness here." Fair enough. So behave like a B-movie and give me the thrills. Why bite more than you can chew on? Did we really need a bad guy on the ship ogling at one of the crew members? Mako doesn't make a beast out of this character and drops it clumsily near the finish line. We hear him talking to someone on the phone and saying, "These people are not actors or film crews." Well, who was he speaking to? What made him draw this conclusion? Mako has no answer. Instead, it rushes toward the climax and gives us an awkward, rushed speech from Rana. The texts that follow, too, quickly disappear from the screen, not giving us enough time to read them (pause the movie if you are interested).
The film crew's encounter with the shark is serviceable. Mako doesn't overuse the shark and mostly concentrates on the characters, which I consider a misstep. As mentioned earlier, they are disposable, and the film uses them for surface-level insights and observations. Why not dial up the fun (and terror) by converting the shark into a more formidable presence rather than making it appear and disappear as per convenience? This material could have served better in the hands of someone unafraid to fully lean towards cheesy, horror movie schlock.
Final Score- [5/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
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