Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So I’m sitting around minding my own damn business when I get an e-mail from some guy claiming to be the American Representative for this Australian nature thriller ‘Black Water’. He or she actually requests that I watch his movie and generate a review since the marketing for the flick is lousy and they’ll take any kind of pub they can get, negative or positive. Since he contacted me, of all people, this cat must be fairly desperate. So this mysterious person e-mails me a link to stream the film, which I hope isn’t some kind of illegal stuff, so I can watch this movie. This actually works well for me because this particular evening I was slated to see the critics screening of the ‘Sex and the City’ movie. Though I’m sure that film will be a smash success with middle aged women across the land, I’d personally rather clean a rest stop bathroom with my tongue than suffer through that so ‘Black Water’ wins in a landslide.

Grace (Diana Glenn), her husband Adam (Andy Rodoreda) and her cute baby sister Lee (Maeve Dermody) are in the Outback on a road trip to enjoy some things in Australia that they haven’t seen before. Little sister Lee suggests they go to a crocodile park which is all good because those crocs are safely tucked away and aren’t going to do anybody any harm, and to quote Ice Cube, it was a good day. Day two finds our threesome deciding to go on a lake tour and a little fishing expedition so they hook up with their tour guide Jim (Ben Oxenbould) and head out on the lake for a three hour tour… a three hour tour.

As Jim navigates his ways through the various waterways trying to find out where the fish are doing the most biting, the tiny boat was rocked and flipped sending its four inhabitants tumbling into the murky waters, but only three of them would bob up for air. The immediate situation is quite dire for these survivors as they desperately scurry towards a nearby tree sticking out of the lake with an 800 pound crocodile hot on their ass. Our three tourists situation doesn’t get any less dire simply because they are

reasonably safe stuck up in tree because somewhere in the lake is this big crocodile apparently has an insatiable appetite, plus the waters are so dirty that they can’t see any more than six inches deep. To make matters worse the boat that they need to get out of this situation is capsized a good 100 feet away and would require great personal risk to retrieve and flip back over. There’s no food, no water, mosquitoes have gone wild, they are so far out they might never be found and for some reason none of them are wearing any shoes. The situation is dire indeed.

Written and directed by the team of Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich ‘Black Water’ is a very tight, very taut, very unnerving and cleverly crafted thriller. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t littered with stupidity here and there, because it certainly has its short bus moments, but the directors have created a tale that is filled with tension and at least had me sitting on the edge of my seat. The challenge for the filmmakers is that majority of their movie consists of three people sitting in a tree and having to react to something they can’t see and that we can’t see, and somehow make this seem scary and / or tense, and for the most part they were successful. It was an effective device to make the crocodile an unseen boogeyman until the final act of the movie which made the creature all the more menacing, which was especially effective when considering that the bulk of the film took place in broad daylight and didn’t have the crutch of darkness to use as a fright device.

That’s the good stuff about ‘Black Water’ but it’s a good thing that this movie didn’t play in the local multiplex’s because it’s the type of movie that will have you talking, and oft times yelling at the screen. These are potential SPOILERS but for instance if there’s something bumping the boat you may find yourself yelling ‘FOOL! Don’t look over the side of the boat! Move to another spot you idiot!’ Admittedly our heroes are in a tense situation which may cause some irrational behavior, but I would have advised my girl that attempting to swing from tree to tree to the twenty or so miles to safety is probably not the best move. I would have also advised my man that if he really wants to swim the dark waters to try and flip over the boat, well aware that there’s a hungry crocodile in the water, that should he succeed in getting the boat upright perhaps he should immediately jump in the boat as opposed to dangling off the side of the boat awash in the joy of his great accomplishment. That’s just what I would advise. And of course there’s always the more than viable option of just waiting in the tree for somebody to hopefully come by until dehydration sets in. Hell, I’m thinking that that was fresh water and not salt water so I’m of the mindset that they could have sat in those trees damn near forever and eat leaves for food. If my choice is drinking dirty water or death by crocodile, then the choice to me is a fairly obvious one. Discretion is the better part of valor it has been said. And why did my man insist on reciting that crocodile eating monkey tune? How about some ‘Men at Work’ or something homeboy?

But then what would a decent monster thriller be without seemingly sane people making phenomenally stupid decisions? It would be me sitting in a tree for the next three months eating leaves is what it would be. Thanks mysterious dude who asked me to watch this movie because I did find ‘Black Water’ to be quite the entertaining and taut little thriller. Sure some of characters were questionable but that didn’t come close to crushing what was ultimately a fine film from Down Under.

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