While on vacation on Northern Australia, Gracie, her husband Adam and her younger sister Lee decide to take the Blackwater Barry tour in the swamp for fishing. Their guide Jim uses a small motor boat and takes the tourist along the river to a remote spot. When they stop, they are attacked by a huge crocodile that capsizes their boat and immediately kills Jim. The three survivors climb a tree and when they realize that help would never come to rescue them, they decide to try to find a way out of their sheltered location. However, in the muddy water, their boat is flipped and the crocodile stalks the trio under the water. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
As a kid I loved the song "Never smile at a crocodile", and if I found myself in this state of affairs, which is actually inspired by true events. Smiling would be the last thing on my mind. From the opening set-up, I've never been so entrenched, caught up and finally exhausted like I was when watching this limited budget Independent Australian horror film, about three people in Northern Territory trapped in a mangrove swamp with a very conniving crocodile waiting in the water below them. What really brought the film alive, was how realistic it managed to be in transporting the fear and uncertainty of the characters' situation to the audience. Semi-documentary camera-work with a disquietingly eerie backdrop and authentic performances effectively take you out of your comfort zone. What we get is a patient survival tale than just a bloody, all-out creature feature onslaught. Think of "Open Water (2003)", where its budget and time restraint made sure it would stay low-key, but this minimal barrier enhanced the experience.
The slow-grinding story might be black and white, but it never seemed to become disposable, or succumb to formulaic patterns. Well not largely, and the connection between the characters were emotionally engaging even with a bare, straight-forward script. Although you can say "less is more", with the actions and expressions illuminating the lingering thoughts plaguing their minds. The ordeal is utterly terrifying, because the threat is very alive and never seems to loosen up. This is what drives the film's chaotic adrenaline, and in which it lasts (even when its kept buried) through to the very end.
Writers / Directors Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich's economical guidance alienates and smartly strings along the viewer with its taut pacing and harrowing psychological traits. In certain patches the notch goes up, with pressure induced suspense and startling images. The way the night sequence is executed is immensely chilling and pulsating. The menacing crocodile manipulative toys with its fresh-meat in a distressingly suspenseful approach. Sure some moments felt unlikely, but never does it get in the way or distract. Sound FX is the key, and at times the lack of any just eats away at you. Rafeal May's musical score is unassuming and doesn't really enter the mixture much, but when it does it builds an organic sounding quality. The cinematography of John Biggins is beautifully devised, and rapidly aggressive when the mood changes. It was always on the move and claustrophobic, but none of this jerky movements. The editing was sharply handled, and the effects were professionally catered by superbly combing live crocodile footage.
Something like this production would also have to rely on its cast to sell to the story in a believable manner and they do it. Diana Glenn, Andy Rodoreda and especially Maeve Dermody are persuasively good. A lot of the responsibility falls on Dermody, and she strongly delivers with an inspired turn. Now this item might cop some comparisons with another killer crocodile film "Rogue (2007)", but the two couldn't be any different in what they want to be and how they end up. If I had to pick though, I'm leaning more towards this outing for its sheer involvement to snap at you.
A remarkable effort on all fronts, with everyone involved showing potential to really look out for.
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