Monday, July 12, 2010

Black Water (2007)

Crocodiles and alligators are tend to be popular animals in genre fair. Come on, look at John Sayles scripted "Alligator", Greg McLean's "Rogue" and Arch Nicholsons' "Dark Age" for good examples. Okay, then there's "Alligator 2", "Dinocroc", "Supergator" and um, "Dinocroc vs. Supergator", but hey, the point still stands. Fortunately, the David Nerlich/Andrew Traucki Aussie flick "Black Water" manages to be one of the good entries.

Grace (Diana Glenn), her boyfriend Adam (Andy Rodoreda) and her sister Lee (Maeve Dermody) have decided to take the Blackwater Barry tour. When their tour guide decides to stop, they are attacked by a large, hungry crocodile. Now stranded, Grace, Adam and Lee must find a way to survive.

Using a small cast and practical effects (including a real crocodile) instead of CGI, "Black Water" is an effective little movie that isn't interested in bombarding the viewer with massive amounts of gore. If anything, the movie is reminiscent of "Open Waters" in that it uses the natural world and it's predators as a threat in a very minimalist way. Thankfully, it uses this very well, as Nerlich and Traucki manage to use moments of silence and a menace that doesn't show itself all the time to create a sense of pure dread and atmosphere, all while making it work. The two know the importance of using dread and having a great payoff, which is something a lot of low budget horror movies fail to do these days. It also helps that it uses plenty of character interaction, which helps the viewer grow attached to their dilemma. The fact that Glenn and Dermody manage to deliver fine performances helps oodles.

There are a few things that keep it from becoming great though. For one thing, Rodoreda is a little uninteresting as Adam, while Ben Oxenbould is a bit too bland as Jim-at least you are given a reason to care about Adam. Jim's just there to be killed off. Also, while it manages to make long moments of silence and character interaction work for the large part, there are moments in which it feels too slow for it's own good. I'm all for the slow burn, but there's times in which you want a little more happening.

Still, "Black Water" is a pleasant surprise that utilizes suspense and tension over gore and shocks. Check it out sometime, especially if you want a good killer croc movie.

Rating: 7.5/10

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