Andrew Traucki (director)
10 July 2020 (released)
09 July 2020
Crocodiles and alligators have been genre staples for many, many years slightly odd as they are relatively clumsy creatures with limited scope. But they are a reliable source of bloody, visceral violence and the jump cut. Black Water: Abyss has both and within the confines of the cave system also has the space to develop quite an atmosphere and tension.
The scene is set with two tourists losing their way in the Australian outback falling down a hole and set upon by something nasty: A classic opener. Swift shift to two couples Jen (Jessica McNamee) and Eric (Luke Mitchell) and Yolanda (Amali Golden) and Viktor (Benjamin Hoetjes) preparing to travel to the outback on a hunch that there is a new cave system to be discovered which could then be monetised.
Local man Cash (Anthony J. Sharpe) and friend of Eric is the guide but it soon becomes clear that he doesn’t know the first thing about caves when he gets his harness on wrong. Lowering down the into the hole the group make their way through the galleries to find an underground lake. This is what they have been looking for and it is quite a spectacular find even though we can only see it through the light of the torches.
The group begin to explore as a storm hits the area causing cascades of water that flood into the cave system. Cut off save for a return via the flooded galleries they also have a huge crocodile to deal with. Viktor is attacked and the ‘he needs a hospital’ line is trotted out while on a ledge with the water rising and the croc bidding its time.
The members of the group break off to see if they can get back the way they came or find another way. Dropped into the confusion are some personal issues that don’t really add much to the overall plot other to colour-in the characters, that I didn’t care about too much bearing in mind the overall context of the film.
That isn’t big issue as the main thing is that this is a fine looking film with director Andrew Traucki, using little more than the cast’s torches for lighting, builds-up the tension in the cave system and the palpable confusion of the protagonists when they have to go into the murky water not knowing what is there. The action sequences are well done and while the crocodile attacks are not that bloody you’re left in no doubt about the power of the animal and the violence of the attack.
Character wise there’s not much to distinguish them from other casts of this type of film, though you can detect a more pensive approach from writers John Ridley and Sarah Smith which the actors work well with. Having said that there is a sagginess about it at times with the film very much driven forward leaping from jeopardy to jeopardy. Those more personal elements aren’t that interesting and while not a long film, but these sections do feel like padding.
This is a sequel to Traucki’s 2007 Black Water croc horror and is a much more satisfying film being more imaginative with the stranded people against nature tropes, setting it underground and mixing various hazards for the trapped to overcome.