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Black Water

by

Jeff Nelson

Black Water is worth a rental for its ability to keep you glued to the screen.

Black Water
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Genre affairs in the film industry have seemed to highly embrace elements of the wild. The list of movies that contain the wilderness, creatures, and getting stuck in a situation is an extremely long catalog. Australia in particular is known for their crocodile movies. The studios attempt to create a hook for audiences by claiming that the story is inspired by true events. This surely grabs the attention of audiences interested in the genre. I'm not particularly familiar with the story that Black Water is based upon, but I'm positive that only a very small fraction of it actually occurred. Is this a worthwhile stuck in the wilderness with a creature flick or just a dud?

Three vacationers take a boat through Northern Australia's swamps and their fight for survival begins as they fight for their lives against a ferocious crocodile. When their vessel suddenly flips and the guide disappears into the water, Grace, Adam, and Lee are stranded in the trees and must think fast. While the premise is a bit different, the overall feel is similar to Open Water. Since the film was created on an extremely low budget, the characters and the screenplay should be the primary focus. The dialogue isn't the strongest it could be, but it works with the exception of some tacky lines. There are some actions carried out by the characters that are sure to get quite a few viewers rolling their eyes. Speaking of the characters, audiences are sure to split on their feeling towards the leads. Early into the running time, I couldn't care less what happened to these people. Quite a few of their intentions to get out of the swamp were idiotic. Later into the film, I started to feel sympathy in particular towards Lee. These characters clearly aren't the strongest asset of the movie. There is a rather large amount of tension held throughout the buildup. Some viewers may find it boring, but I thought it was paced well. The crocodile isn't seen as much as some people might be expecting. The major plot points are fairly predictable, but the ride is taut.

Given that Black Water is a low budget presentation, the actors are unknown. Even those who reside in Australia are most likely not going to know these actors. My opinions on them is mixed. Each actor has his or her moments. If I had to choose one that stuck out the most, it would have to be Maeve Dermody who performs as Lee. Especially towards the ending, she pulls it together and expresses fear on screen rather naturally. Diana Glenn has her time to shine as Grace earlier in the movie. Andy Rodoreda is Adam and delivers some of the better dialogue he has quite well. To be honest, the cast doesn't have the best chemistry. Their strongest times on screen are generally given when the actors are performing individually.

Nearly the entire running time takes place in the swamp. This is a fantastic setting for such a low budget movie. Instead of showing a large amount of CGI, Black Water remains focused on the characters and trying to escape the swamps. The crocodile itself isn't shown very often. Despite not being able to see it, the viewer is able to feel its presence beneath the murky waters throughout. This method has been used for many years and remains to be effective. When the creature begins to get more screen time, it looks good. The cinematography is decent and adds to the general dreary atmosphere. The final showdown between our leads and the crocodile was shot well. This definitely isn't for the gore hounds out there. This story focuses on character development and the plot and has a very small amount of blood.

There are components of Black Water that worked well, but there are certainly problems that appear throughout. The tension is great and left me on the edge of my seat. A lot of audiences are sure to find a couple of the characters to be a tad irritating and many of their decisions are dumb. The essential concept here has been executed much better than it's done here, although there are others that have were much worse than this. While this isn't a masterpiece, I found it to be an entertaining film with tension that makes it all worthwhile. Black Water is worth a rental for its ability to keep you glued to the screen.

My Rating = Three Stars

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