I don’t know why I’ve put myself through a second man-eating disaster movie this week and yet, here we are.
This genre, despite my outwardly cavalier attitude, feeds into my very worst fears. Films like this (looking at you Jaws) are why I don’t go in the water and can barely enter a swimming pool without having a panic attack.
Side note: Here’s a free mini-review from Wednesday’s viewing of The Shallows (2016):
I so wish this had been better. It’s genuinely terrifying in places, but laughable in others. The acting is not good (sorry Blake). Refreshing to watch a film about a resourceful woman without a hint of love interest on the horizon, though. This could have been an excellent film, but alas. Also, we get it, Lively has a lovely peachy butt.
Now to this week’s pick, which was mine. I don’t really know what I was thinking as it falls so closely in-line with the Shark Month films we’ve only recently kissed goodbye to.
Rogue, incidentally, popped up on a list of underrated animal/horror movies in the wake of the release of The Shallows and it piqued my interest. That it showed up on Netflix a few days later just made it convenient. I think Jill and I both fancied something mindless this week too so here we are.
IMDB Synopsis: An American journalist on assignment in the Australian outback encounters a man-eating crocodile while trapped on a rapidly flooding mud island.
A group of tourists join a crocodile watching cruise in the Northern Territory of Australia, captained by wildlife researcher Kate (Mitchell).
The gang includes ‘cynical’ travel writer Pete (Vartan) who walks into a bar decorated with newspaper clippings about croc attacks just before he boards Kate’s boat. He seems perturbed but also determined to keep his cool in front of his boat mates. We also meet slightly odd Simon (Stephen Curry), ‘brassy’ Gwen (Celia Ireland), a young Mia Wasikowska and her parents, who seem completely interchangeable with the other couple, Everett (Robert Taylor) and Mary Ellen (Caroline Brazier).
Mia’s Sherry and family have their own issues to contend with, as mum Elizabeth (Heather Mitchell) is losing her battle with cancer. Which sort of excuses the fact dad (and husband) Allen (Geoff Morrell) is a bit of an arse. There’s also Merv (Barry Otto) but honestly, most of the men look similar and in the dark, which inevitably falls, it won’t even matter (Soz men!).
(I’ve missed someone called Russell out too but again, it doesn’t really matter).
Things start off great, the team spot a croc being fed by another tour group and a wave of nervous awe ripples through the boat. Kate assures them that although those bad boys can jump a considerable height, it’s unlikely they’d want to attack a boat, or indeed them. Just as long as they stay out of the water, they’ll be fine. Bless.
There’s an initial spark between Pete and Kate of course, until he acts all superior about his travel experience and she sends him back to his seat (she’s never left the territory see). He does have an air of superiority about him which is unpleasant, though one suspects there’s a life lesson to be learned here.
The group go about their business with only one blip, the arrival of local charmers Collin (Damien Richardson) and Neil (Sam Worthington), who obviously has some sort of history with Kate. Real talk #101: I do not care for Sam Worthington one bit. Collin and Neil try to humiliate Kate in front of her guests which of course backfires because they’re dufuses (dufi?).
As the tour gets ready to conclude business and head back to dry land, one of the tourists sees a flare in the distance. Being a good egg, Kate refuses to ignore it, much to the chagrin of some of the group (FUCK OFF YOU DICKS). Although, if it was me, maybe I’d pretend I hadn’t seen it.
This is the point where you’ll be shouting at the screen because they are all so close to being back on land, clutching cold brewskis and not having their limbs bitten off, but we’re all here for the terror and terror is waiting for us just around the bend. Literally. Our half reluctant/half heroic gang get several miles up the river before realising that the flare has been set off by a boat in distress (now sunken). Before anyone has a chance to shout “Oh fuck!” their boat is attacked from beneath. But of course.
Kate expertly gets the vessel to the bank but it’s sprung a leak and she has to ground it violently. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck, eh? It’s all good though as nobody’s hurt and besides, they’ve got their feet planted firmly on land now, so just a short skip and jump back to camp, right?
You came here for terror, remember?
It quickly becomes apparent that our intrepid travelers are a bit fucked as they’re actually straight chilling on an island that will soon be under water when the tide comes in. They’re also in two minds about how to handle their new situation, as they’re all now convinced there’s a hungry crocodile out there. This is confirmed when Neil and Collin rock up again to mess with Kate and get tossed in the air like a hippy’s hacky sack.
Collin’s the first snack on our crocodile’s menu but luckily Sam Worthington swims to shore (dammit). He’s no longer playing and everyone realises the seriousness of their predicament. One of the men gets chomped quite quickly afterwards, but I’ll be fucked if I can distinguish which one. It’s not Merv or the dad. Yet.
I think, as with all movies of this ilk, it would be poor practice just to list the deaths one by one, even if some of them are way satisfying. Note: Mansplainers get eaten, yo. You get the general gist of this, a sizeable group of tourists are trapped while a big ass croc stalks them. They have to get off the island whatever happens or they’ll become chum.
(By the way our crocolicious one is about 7 meters long and is an absolute beauty. He’s also cranky af and that doesn’t bode well for the team (I actually have no idea if it’s male or female tbh)).
Neil, despite looking and sounding like a jackass, is just about the only one of them to have a plan, while Kate tries the Christa Bass Tried and Tested Method of believing someone is going to turn up soon to make it all better.
Neil’s plan is to swim to the other side of the river ‘quietly’ (erm) and hook a rope around a tree so each of the group can climb along it, a few metres up and get across themselves. This starts to work until one of the women freaks out, a man gets shirty and fucks it all up for the rest of them. Don’t worry, he’s punished for his rudeness.
There’s another plan, Kate refuses to sacrifice her dog as bait (and is rewarded for this later), some people survive, some get chomped, Pete and Kate get thrown into an even hairier situation when they stumble across the croc’s personal pantry (aka a small cave), there’s a final showdown because isn’t there always in every film – and then it ends.
I’ve not really left much room for questions this time around but I guess: who survives to tell this sorry tail (ahem, I mean tale)?
God damn this is a stressful movie! The sheer size and age of this ancient killing machine blows my tiny mind, even though the story is fictional. I mean these things are practically dinosaurs and they’re just pottering around in the outback minding their own business.
And although sharks are my number one fear, crocodiles have a mean streak about them that make them just as terrifying. There are plenty of creatures that seem to take great pleasure in killing but it’s the way they execute that commando roll with their prey in their mouths that chills me to the bone. I think I might have pooped myself a bit watching this. Also, isn’t murky water so much more horrifying? Eeeek.
I have to say I didn’t really give a shit about any of the cast. Maybe Young Mia who showed tremendous bravery but didn’t really get any dialogue. Sam Worthington at least was practical, if annoying. Again, it was nice that there was no romance on the horizon but I wish Kate had rescued Pete and not the other way around – sorry, SPOILER!
Funnily enough the tension dissipates when we find ourselves in the monster’s lair. Mystery really is where it’s at, eh? Seeing the beast up close is satisfying and the CGI is pretty good I have to say but there’s something about it that left me a little deflated. I think out of water this amazing creature seems cumbersome and therefore less terrifying?
Whatever it was, I was glad when this movie ended. It’s exactly the right length (99 minutes).
My Rating: 4/5 for the genuine anxiety it caused me. 3/5 for how I felt about the characters.