Here’s the main problem with "Black Water. " The DVD art sucks. I’m serious. This is a movie I must have overlooked a thousand times because of its subpar American marketing. Not that the original Australian movie poster (http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3093533440/tt0816436) is all that much better but, geez, look at the cover of this bad boy. It looks cheaper than cheap. Heck, see that snake creeping up on our heroine? THAT’S A CROCODILE! More on par with something you would turn off after ten minutes if you stumbled upon it on the Syfy channel. Like, say….this maybe? (http://www.allrovi.com/movies/movie/venomous-v257003).
Turns out this film pretty much exceeds every expectation you could possibly have for it based on the images of Hasselhoff being chased by CGI snakes it instantly brings to mind (http://www.dvdactive.com/news/releases/anaconda-3-offspring.html).
The film starts out with our three main characters headed to visit a croc park. Grace (Diana Glenn) and Adam (Andy Rodoreda) are in a relationship together, and Lee (Maeve Dermody) is tagging along. The next day the trio decide to take Backwater Barry’s Alternative River Tour.
When they arrive Jim (Ben Oxenbould) takes them out on a fishing expedition in to the river, where their boat is capsized by a giant crocodile. Grace and Adam swim to a nearby tree and shimmy up, Lee climbs on to the bottom of the capsized boat, and Jim is taken by the conniving reptile.
Films such as this one walk a fine line between suspense and tedium. There’s a certain surprise when the croc makes his appearance at only 15 minutes in to the film to strand our unwitting participants. How can this film continue for another hour plus?
In many ways “Black Water” is comparable to “Jaws.” Not that it’s a classic, per se, but it uses a similar sense of inferred terror and paranoia over blatant CGI. Oh, and dangerous water-based villains. After he leaves with Jim’s body, the three friends aren’t even sure the croc is still there. Why would it just be hanging out? Shouldn’t it be safe to just go turn the boat over and get out of there? The croc makes few appearances, but doesn’t look cheesy at all. I would venture to say they used a lot of shots of real crocodiles in this film.
I checked this movie out after running across it on rottentomatoes. A movie I thought looked “Ankle Biters” generic (http://www.allrovi.com/movies/movie/ankle-biters-v274918) was sitting at 79%. My interest was piqued. And, I have to say, this turned out to be a REALLY good movie.
The sense of dread the three are experiencing is palpable, the director ratchets up the suspense in some creative ways, and the cinematography is beautiful. There are, of course, some lulls. You can only do so much with three people stranded in such a small area. But it’s much better than trying to flesh out the film by having the characters, say, hang out at a bar for 15 minutes, than at a hotel for another 15, maybe an unnecessary and drawn out argument between the boyfriend and girlfriend, etc, etc. Getting in to the “action” quickly grabs your interest early and the film does a good job of keeping it.
Maybe it’s not Jaws, but for a generation of movie-goers who may not have seen the film, it’s a well-made foray into a genre usually filled with cheap, repetitive tripe.
Written by Ryan Venson