CERT: 15 | PLATFORM: DVD | RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 2ND
This belated, spiritual – and entirely unconnected – sequel to 2007’s Black Water, in which a ferocious saltwater crocodile terrorises a group of holidaymakers in Northern Australia, is pretty much a case of ‘rinse and repeat’. Returning director Andrew Traucki does little more than rearrange the furniture by moving the action into a slowly-flooding underwater cavern to deliver a shamelessly-derivative piece of entertaining by-the-numbers shlock that suggests that it’s still not safe to go back into the water and that movie audiences are unlikely to ever lose their primal fear of sharks, crocodiles, and other assorted big scaly things that live and feed in the water.
We’re still in Northern Australia where, this time, a bunch of faceless should-know-betters decide to go spelunking (it’s a real thing, look it up) into a cave system to escape an oncoming storm. Naturally, they can’t get out again and find themselves trapped as the waters start to rise, bringing with them a prowling, hungry crocodile that proceeds to do what prowling, hungry crocodiles are want to do when foolish humans get up close and personal. Cue much screaming, thrashing about in the water and the occasional fountain of blood as Mr Snappy gets to chow down on his latest fast-food snack.
There’s really nothing in Black Water: Abyss that we haven’t seen in dozens of these low budget creature features and it certainly doesn’t even try to put a new spin on a tired idea as Alexandre Aja managed in last year’s tense and nerve-shredding Crawl. The characters are a bland and faceless bunch despite transparent attempts to create some tame relationship tension between them but in truth, we’re not here for emotional angst, we’re here to watch a big reptile sink its teeth into screaming idiots. In this regard, Black Water: Abyss doesn’t disappoint and there’s certainly a palpable sense of uneasy dread from the claustrophobic setting – why do people insist on clambering around in cold, dark, dingy caves? – even before the hungry, hungry crocodile starts to circle around looking for a free lunch.
Black Water: Abyss is as good as it needs to be and no more. It does everything we might expect of it and no cliché is left unvisited – just when it looks as if the nightmare is over there’s one further twist of the knife – but you’re quite likely to find it an embarrassingly enjoyable experience even as you roll your eyes at its predictability.