There’s just something about predator animals and natural disasters that really strikes a nerve with the primal psyche. Asa species, we have advanced to the point where we don’t have to worry about something above us on the food chain taking a bite out of us. But yet, the fear remains. Which also explains why real life incidents of animal attacks are so newsworthy. Every time a bear or a shark attacks someone, that’s a headline. As was the case when in 2003 when a trio of young people went out into the Northern Australian wilderness and found themselves under siege by a voracious crocodile. This served as the basis for the 2007 movie, Black Water. Now, some 13 years later, a sequel arises from the outback with Black Water: Abyss.
Taking the setting back to Northern Australia, Jennifer (Jessica McNamee) spurred on by her daredevil boyfriend Eric (Luke Mitchell) and friends Yolanda, Viktor, and Cash (Amali Golden, Benjamin Hoetjes, Anthony J. Sharpe) decide to go spelunking in the wilderness. Descending into a newly formed and seemingly untouched cave system. As misfortune would have it, a storm hits, flooding the caves and sealing them in. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they have some very hungry reptile guests to deal with.
Director Andrew Traucki co-directed the original story of crocodile survival in Black Water and did work on the similar animal isolated danger of The Reef featuring swimmers vs sharks. Now, returning solo, he has gone back to his roots with this spiritual sequel. Unfortunately despite the potential of the setting and plot and the everlasting terror of crocodiles, the movie in’t that enthralling. In the wake of such movies as Crawl and 47 Meters Down that managed to up the stakes to as high of a level as they could go. So, while Black water: Abyss has an interesting premise that promises a lot of danger, the action and horror of the crocodile foes tends to slog on.
A major focus of the plot often falls to the characters many dysfunctions and in-fighting as they struggle to survive. Which is good to filling out their character’s depths more, but at the same time falls into soap opera like drama. Such as Viktor’s recovery from cancer and some rather overt twists and turns in the characters relationships and revelations. And let’s face facts, we’re here for the monsters, in this case, the crocs. With the way the movie is filmed we don’t get as much of them as we’d like and the scares aren’t wholly effective.
Some of my favorite scenes in the movie are actually at the beginning during the prologue of sorts. A couple of Japanese tourists (Louis Toshio Okada, Rumi Kikuchi) are bickering in the outback when they accidentally crash down into the croc cave systems below. It makes for a real burst of adrenaline despite being short. And the movie does make good use of the Jaws like credo of the less you see, the scarier it is. Some of the more tense moments are when characters have to wade through the occupied waters, unsure when one of those scaly beasts will attack.
It’s not really groundbreaking, but if you’re in the mood for a quick story of spelunkers vs crocodiles underground, this is for you.
Black Water: Abyss hits VOD on August 7th, 2020