Black Water – 3 out of 5
Just recently I watched a little film called Ghost Shark because I was in the mood for a cheesy shark film but immediately after watching it, I decided that I wanted to watch another film that involved an underwater creature attacking the land-dwelling beings called humans but, this time, one that is a little more serious. I looked at my list of movies that I had wanted to see and I saw one called Black Water. I don’t remember why I added it to my list but it had “water” in the title so it’s got to fit my criteria.
|She's smiling because she has no idea the horror awaiting her but she's|
Australian and theoretically should understand that everything there was
designed to kill humans.
Well, this film certainly fit what I was looking for as it centers on Grace (Diana Glenn), her sister Lee (Maeve Dermody) and Lee’s husband; Adam (Andy Rodoreda), as they are out on a vacation. Everything seems fine and dandy as they locate an off-the-beaten path fishing tour in the Mangrove swamps of Australia—this is an Australian film, by the way. It seems like boring old fishing until their boat is capsized by a large crocodile. Now they’re trapped in the swamp with a hungry croc drifting through the murky waters, stalking them and ready to make them his next meal.
|A couple of these crocodiles look like they're either smiling for the camera or|
offended to have their picture taken.
The concept behind Black Water is simple enough: It’s a survival thriller very grounded in reality. Add in some simple but sympathetic characters and a pacing and atmosphere that breeds tension and you have a fairly decent film. However, I found that I just couldn’t get invested in the movie and found a lot of it to be a tad tedious and out-right boring.
|While watching this I thought, "Why isn't the guy on the right played by Steve|
Irwin?" and then I remembered he died a year before the film came out.
Then I became sad.
|Climbing a tree means survival in this film. That |
means I would be the first to die.
What this film does exceptionally well is crafting ominous and heart-pounding tension. There are several moments where our characters are attempting to do something that will help them get out of their situation and the music, natural sound, camera angles and editing will work together in concert to get the old heart pumping. As a viewer, you know the same thing the character knows and that is that they damn crocodile is out in the muddy waters and he’s ready to leap out and slam his jaws down on some soft, spongy human flesh and you also have no idea when and where he will strike. Rather than just go for the quick and easy scare, the director builds up these moments slowly and will even add in a sense of unpredictability as you never quite know when the croc will show up or how it will make its appearance. Hell, there is a single moment where the beast shows up very slowly and it is still insanely effective.
What didn’t work for me with Black Water is there is a lot of down time in-between the moments of terror the crocodile brings. I see this in a lot of grounded survival films where the characters are battling against the very elements of Mother Nature and that is the reality they can’t fight the antagonist for an hour and a half. There has to be times where they have their moments of reprieve. During these calmer moments we are treated to character development and we often get some reason why their survival is even that much more important. Black Water didn’t do much with these quieter moments and while we do learn a little more about the characters, it wasn’t to a degree where I found I was solidly invested and I found myself getting a tad bored.
|I know I've said it but you live in Australia. You would think being hunted|
by a croc is just a part of everyday life.
Black Water is a terrifically put together film from a technical standpoint. The acting is good, the editing is masterful and crafts an excellent pace and it is filmed beautifully. The story is additionally something that works well because it never over-complicates itself and it delivers on the promise of some tense moments. Ultimately, however, the film is undone by the times where the story is at its quietest and it makes for a film that is constantly having its momentum halted and stopped.