Warning, this is a spoiler based review
This one caught my attention in my research because it is based on a true story. In Australia between 1974 and 1979, a 17 foot, 50 year old crocodile whom the locals named sweetheart, decided it had had enough of the tourists and decided to start attacking anything it decided it didn't like the look of.
|Sweetheart, now stuffed and unliving in a museum in the Northern Territories|
My research indicates that this is a survival horror movie so I am going to attempt to actually learn the characters names. I hope they make it easy for me.
We open on a sunrise and what I can only assume is aboriginal singing, we're immediately treated to some sweeping shots of scenery porn. Australia is a hell of a beautiful country, it's a shame everything that lives there wants to kill you. We then see a buffalo (I don't know if it is a buffalo, I'm guessing, it's not really important), being attacked and pulled into the water by a crocodile, it's quick, we don't get to see much of the croc and literally within seconds the water is still again.
Oh my god, this might actually be a good movie.
A bus pulls up to a road side cafe and we meet our first character, Pete, played by Michael Vartan (Never been kissed, One hour photo.)
Pete is a travel writer, doing a piece on the Northern Territories, (our setting), he stops by the cafe and gets a call from his boss, which keeps cutting out due to the poor reception. A misunderstanding whilst he is speaking leads to the cafe owner putting a fly in his coffee. The cafe is filled with stuffed and preserved creatures and the walls are covered in newspaper articles and photographs of brutal crocodile attacks. Incidentally, the cafe owner is played by Barry Otto, well known Australian actor, best known by foreign audiences as Doug Hastings, Scott's father, from Strictly Ballroom.
Barry Otto is totally brilliant in this scene by the way, he's a terrific actor.
Pete goes to join the boat tour where we are introduced to the rest of the cast of characters, who I'll be naming and screenshotting as they are introduced, so we're clear who is who and to help me in case I was wrong and this turns out to be a terrible movie, I'll know who to blame.
First up we have Kate, the tour guide, played by Radha Mitchell, (Pitch Black, Silent Hill, The Crazies) she doesn't seem to fair well in these kinds of films from what I remember.
|Mary Ellen and Everett|
So we're treated to an info dump that's actually interesting, the river is a tidal river system with the largest population of Saltwater Crocodiles. The land is twice the size of Texas, but with a population of only 200,000. Normally the scenery porn in here would annoy, but bloody hell, Australia is beautiful.
We're introduced to the remaining characters, a family comprised of parents Allen and Elizabeth and young teenager Sherry. Elizabeth has some sort of illness, evidenced by using a cane and popping medication from a pill box. Photographer Simon offers to take the family's photo, which is really just an excuse to show off his camera, but his heart seems in the right place.
|Sherry, Allen and Elizabeth|
I'd do a billion screencaps here because the scenery is just awesome, but you could probably just watch the movie for yourself and save my hard drive space. Mary Ellen and Everett have an argument because Everett keeps talking like a frat boy and it's annoying her. I don't blame her.
The tour passes a boat which is tempting crocs to jump from the water using meat on a stick. Kate tells Gwen that the crocs can jump right out of the water, but wouldn't jump onto the boat because it's bigger than the average crocodile. She tells the group that crocs have been around for 200 million years and saltwater crocodiles can swim under water at twenty miles an hour without making a ripple on the surface. She also tells them if they go camping in the area, to not stick to a routine because the croc will learn your habits if you go for water the same time everyday. I don't know if it's true, but it sounds like it could be, which pleases me.
I'm sure this information will be important later. Even if they are using stock footage here, it's nice to see real crocodiles in a movie about crocodiles.
The tourists fuss over Kevin and Pete and Kate chat briefly. Kate reveals she's never left the territories, while Pete has travelled all over the world.
The tour continues and they are approached by a couple of guys in a speed boat, who moon them and then slam their boat into the front of the tour boat. This is Neil played by Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation, Avatar) and Colin, Neil clearly knows Kate as they greet each other awkwardly.
|Neil and Colin|
Kate remarks that Everett and Pete are heroes for sending off Neil and Colin.
In a very touching moment, backed by some beautiful incidental music, Russell gets a small silver urn from his bag and on a beautiful stretch of the river, sprinkles the ashes into the water. Indicating that whomever he was supposed to be on the boat with, died very recently. Sherry sees this and the two exchange some sad smiles.
We're treated to some more scenery porn and I do mean treated and it's backed by some more aboriginal singing. Kate tells them that they'll be turning back on the river and it should take about an hour, with them having time to grab an ice cream.
Uh oh... we're at the 22 minute mark.
Everett gets out his video camera, Mary Ellen asks him not to film her so he starts looking over the canyons and spots a flare in the distance. he tells Mary Ellen and they decide to tell Kate. Everett goes to rewind the tape on his camera, then the other tourists see another flare go up, Kate tries to radio the base, but the radio reception is poor. She tries to tell them where they are and that she's going to check out the flares. She tells the tourists, but some of them are unhappy because they have buses to catch, but she tells them rightly, that it someone could be seriously hurt and she has a responsibility to at least try to find the flares.
Elizabeth, being the voice of reason, asks how long it will take and Kate says that it can't be more than a couple of miles up the river. They travel through a gorge, and we get an overhead shot showing how isolated it is. Pete asks a slightly distressed looking Kate if she is ok, she says that they aren't really supposed to be there as it's considered sacred land.
The sweeping shots are fantastic. As they travel up river, an unseen man chants in hidden spot above the river, either that or it's the soundtrack, it's a bit unclear. Simon takes some photos of a cave painting, guess what it's depicting.
|If you guessed Giant Crocodile, you're aware this is a crocodile movie|
Kate agrees, but spots something in the water, they approach it and discover it's the end of a sunken boat. As the tourists start to complain that they should leave, something violently hits the underside of their boat, scaring everyone and springing a huge leak, causing the boat to start sinking. They spot a mud island and Kate rams the boat into it and everyone quickly gets off the boat.
With the engine fully submerged, they start searching through the bags for a radio, but it's gotten wet. Russell tries the boat radio, though Kate tells him it's underwater and it won't work. The tourists start to complain that Kate's got them stuck and they don't want to be stuck up the river. Gwen asks why the croc would attack a boat and Kate explains that they're territorial and if they've stumbled into it's territory then it could have "nudged" them to warn them away. She assures them that if they don't return as scheduled then her father will send a search party to find them.
Russell points out that because it's a tidal river and the island they are standing on will be fully submerged in a few hours, they need to cross to the main land and walk back to get help. Pete points out that there's a big crocodile in the water, but Russell says they are better off doing it while there's still light. Everett struggles with Russell to stop him, but Simon shushes them as he gets something on the radio.
|What was that noise?|
They wonder for a few seconds what happened, then Mary Ellen starts freaking out, Allen comforts Elizabeth and Sherry and the others look on in shock and despair.
No one can get a signal on their phones and they take turns holding up the radio while Kate searches the boat for supplies. Pete asks her if the tide will come in, in hours or minutes, but Kate points out that with an aggressive croc, the tide is the least of their problems because it will be dark soon and they need light to see, but the croc doesn't.
Kate says that she thought Pete was a fearless travel writer, he says he writes stupid articles about restaurants and resorts, not the Australian outback and he hates animals, especially ones that try to eat you. Kate tries to find their flares, but Pete shows her that they've floated away, there's a surprising shortage of volunteers to retrieve them. Allen gets a signal on the radio, and as they tune it, it appears to be music.
Neil and Colin appear with their boat, blasting the sounds from their CD player into the radio. The tourists try to get him to bring the boat in and warn him about the crocodile.
|Because they must have stranded themselves for fun|
We get a brief glimpse at this point that Neil and Kate have a matching set of black star tattoos, indicating that there is more to their relationship.
The sun starts to set and the water starts to rise around the island, Mary Ellen cries alone, and Kate tries to get a fire going, whilst Pete sets the boat lights facing the island. Pete asks how long it will be before her father comes, but the look she gives him seems to say that it won't be soon. Simon watches over the water using the night vision mode on one of his cameras, he spots the dead ducks from Neil and Colins boat, as well as some beer, which he keeps to himself.
It is now completely dark, Neil gets the fire going using some petrol and tells the group he's thought of a way to cross. Russell asks him how he'll do this without getting in the water. Neil regretfully says that he will be getting in the water. His plan is to swim across with a rope tied to a tree on the island and tie the other end to a tree on the other side, allowing the others to climb across. Russell says that they saw how high the crocs could jump out of the water and Allen says that his wife wouldn't be strong enough to climb across and asks if they could come back with help. Neil points out that by the time they returned, the island would be gone.
The tourists are all tired and scared, which is made worse when Neil explains that the croc has probably tagged them, which Kate kept from them to prevent them becoming more scared. What this means is that since they are in the crocs territory, it has tagged them as it's food and will not stop until it has them. Neil says they have to start now whilst they still have a chance, disheartened, the tourists consider their situation.
|Allen explains the plan to Elizabeth and Sherry|
Neil gets in the water, Russell shines his light for him and Simon watches the water with his night vision camera. This scene is brilliantly filmed, you are with Neil as he desperately does not want to get in the water, but knows he has to as it's their only plan. As he swims slowly across, it's very nail biting and the occasional underwater POV shot increases the tension.
|I do not want to be Neil|
As she reaches the halfway point she becomes frozen in terror and cannot climb any further, becoming stuck. The tree's the rope is tied to looks like it's about to start to buckle, Kate and the others try to encourage Mary Ellen to keep moving.
Allen, panicked and scared for the lives of his wife and daughter starts to argue with others and get into a shoving match, he forces Sherry onto the rope and climbs up after her, despite everyone telling him the rope will not take the weight of three people. They start to climb across and the tree's buckle further and Kate shouts at Mary Ellen to move. A terrified Sherry reaches Mary Ellen, with Allen right behind her, but Mary Ellen still cannot move.
Everyone starts to shout as the rope is coming undone and the trees are moving, Simon spots something moving in the bushes and Neil drops his light. He moves to grab it and the tree buckles, causing Sherry, Allen and Mary Ellen to slip and hang onto the rope with just their hands. Neil hears the sound of the croc behind him and as he turns, he is attacked, we barely see the croc, there is no stream of blood and it's bloody scary. They notice that Neil hasn't responded, then they see the tail of the croc enter the water and Kate shouts for them to move.
The tourists on the island scream for them all to move and the tree completely buckles and all three on the rope drop suddenly into the water. They make it to the shore of the island, terrified and Allen lies in the mud, apologising for his actions endangering everyone. Everyone is scared, and breathing heavily, Pete tells Kate to get back from the water as she looks frantically to see if she can see Neil. Kate reaches out to help Allen up and the croc leaps out of the water and grabs his arm.
Elizabeth and Sherry cry in shock on the island, Russell drops to his knees in despair, Simon hangs his head in his hands, Kate hugs Pete for comfort as Kevin cries.
The water level rises further on the island and Pete tends to Kate's wrist which was sprained when Allen was wrenched from her grasp. Sherry is now in shock and Elizabeth needs her medication which has floated away, but they can give her painkillers from the first aid kit. Kate confesses that no one else will come looking for them until the morning. Kate blames herself for getting them into the situation and for the deaths of Colin, Neil and Allen, Pete tells her it's not her fault and she shouldn't give up.
|The most dangerous game of stepping stones, ever.|
Russell says they aren't getting away without a boat, Pete says they have to do something or they will be submerged by the tide. Gwen points out that they need bait, Pete says if they can bait the anchor with something they should have enough time. Simon argues with Pete about the futility of their situation as they are being hunted by "a steam train with teeth", Kate says they have about half an hour at most before the tide finishes coming in. To be fair, there's nothing stopping the croc from just getting on the island anyway, they just prefer to attack from water.
Russell says he's with Pete, but they haven't got any bait. Elizabeth, in a realistic and to be fair, horrible moment, suggests they use Kevin the dog. Simon agrees. Kate says she can't, Elizabeth says she can. They argue, Elizabeth who has battled for more time with her daughter, fighting her cancer, says that the life of Kevin the dog is not worth as much as the lives of all the other people, she has a point, I suppose, but being a pet owner, I'd sooner throw Elizabeth to the crocodile than my pet. If you're a good pet owner, you put put just as much love and time into raising an animal as you do raising a child, you love them, you nurture them, a dog or a cat can live for 10-20 years and they are part of your family, so asking someone to sacrifice their beloved dog to a crocodile is a very harsh thing to ask someone.
Simon, however, has a better idea and retrieves the dead ducks which washed ashore from Neil and Colins boat. Dog is saved.
The water level rises higher. Elizabeth tells Sherry that when they swim, she is to go first and to not try and help Elizabeth cross the water and assures her she will be fine. They attach some life jackets to the anchor as a float and Kate puts the duck on the Anchor, Kate laments she's 28 years old and can tie a knot, but has never been anywhere or seen anything other than the territories. Pete tells her travelling is over rated. Russell throws the bait into the water and Pete volunteers to work the trap by pulling the rope, tricking the crocodile into thinking that the bait is alive.
The water level rises higher still and Kate tells them that if it doesn't work, their only choice is to stick together and make a dash for the shore.
|Russell confronts Elizabeth|
Pete works the trap and Kate brings Kevin over, saying that crocs like the scent of dogs and he should cross with Pete, last. She makes Pete promise to take care of him and the trap springs, so Kate rushes to get everyone in the water. The crocodile is very strong, however and the rock that the rope is tied to is pulled by the croc, forcing Pete to use his own weight to keep it in place. Mary Ellen and Sherry dive in first, Russell tells Sherry not to worry as he has her mum and he and Simon join the others in the river, with Russell carefully aiding Elizabeth. Pete shouts for them to hurry as it won't hold for long, Kate waits for Pete for a few moments, then he shouts for her to move so she jumps into the water.
Mary Ellen and Sherry make it to the shore, Russell reassures Elizabeth that Sherry has made it to the other side, Pete goes to move and he notices that the rope has gone limp, Simon, Russell and Elizabeth make it to the shore. Peter pulls in the bent and broken anchor and shouts to Kate that the croc is loose and she needs to swim. Kate shouts to the others to run, Sherry runs into the woods and Elizabeth chases after her, the others are hesitant, but Kate shouts to them to run and they will catch up with them.
Pete spots the crocodile approaching Kate, but is too late to warn her.
|In it's death roll|
Pete finally turns into the forest with Kevin as the lights on the boat flicker out at last. He shouts for the others in the forest, thinking at moments that he hears their voices, but no one responds and Pete and Kevin are alone. With no idea where he is going or which direction to travel in, as dawn begins to break, Kevin runs off, leaving Pete completely alone. He rests by a tree for a few moments, alone, lost, scared for his life, then hears the sound of Kevin barking in the distance.
He grabs his light and notices something floating in the water, he turns it and discovers it's Neil's torso. This is the lair of the crocodile and where it stores it's food. Pete unwillingly climbs further into the lair and finds Kevin, who is sat by some trees. As he gets closer, Pete see's that Kevin has actually found Kate who is very badly injured, but still alive, the life jacket keeping her insides in, she's missing chunks from her legs and arms, but breathing.
Pete hears the crocodile in the distance and looks for a place to hide, he finds a spot behind some tree roots and hides Kate on a natural shelf, pulling himself up as well.
Pete quickly pulls Kate to safety behind some tree roots, but the croc is well pissed and starts biting at them, attempting to eat it's way through, even death rolling to try and snap the roots more. Pete see's a sharp stick and runs for it, but the croc hits him with it's tail, sending him flying. He points the stick at the crocodile, but it's a stick and a crocodile, so the croc is not really intimidated by the stick very much. The croc bites the end off the stick, because, well, what else was Pete expecting to happen?
Then, it grabs the stick again, shaking it and sending Pete slamming into a wall. Pete runs behind some rocks and the croc launches itself at him, squeezing itself between them and begins to wildly snap it's jaws at him.
|This plan doesn't really end well for Pete.|
He puts his back to a large rock and wedges the stick against it, daring the croc to come at it, the croc launches itself out of the water at Pete, it's jaws wrapping around the rock, the stick goes through it's soft palette and out the other side. The croc struggles for a few moments, then drops to the ground, dead.
Pete discovers he's actually alive and has managed to kill the croc, so he doesn't have to become a Captain Hook figure. He rests for a few moments as he takes in the situation, realising that he's killed the crocodile and they are now safe. Well, as long as the other, smaller, but still very deadly crocodiles don't come after them.
He pulls Kate from the hole and it is daylight at last.
He wades through the swamp, carrying Kate, to find the tourists on a small mud island, with three helicopters surrounding them, having found help. The rescue workers are a bit disappointed to find they don't have a big croc to kill, but everyone is exhausted, relieved and emotionally drained from their ordeal.
Kate wakes up and asks Pete what he thought of the tour and thanks him for saving her life before she is air lifted out. The screen fades to white and then as the credits roll, we see the wall of the cafe from the beginning of the movie, with an article about Pete now pinned to the wall.
|You can probably read it properly on the blue ray edition|
This is a brilliant movie. It's suspenseful, truly terrifying and very well acted.
The cast is brilliant, there's fantastic character moments throughout. The crocodile is great looking, it never looks fake at all during the movie and they used it sparingly so every time we saw it, it looked both brilliant and horrific.
There are no best or worst characters, no one the movie could have done without. Everyone is used to their best and the movie takes advantage of every second they have on screen.
I enjoyed this movie thoroughly, it's a masterpiece of horror and I have no idea why it faired so poorly at the box office. It deserved much better and I urge you to add it to your dvd collection.
That being said, however, this is most certainly, a horror movie, it's not Lake Placid, there is no black humour in this movie. It's not Jaws, there's no investigation or high seas adventure. This is not the kind of creature feature you put on at any old time. You put this movie on when you want to be scared.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, there's a big lack of horror movies these days that are straight up horror, not gore, horror, because even though people are eaten and have limbs torn off, those are not the scary parts. It's the uncertainty, the looking at the water and not knowing if the crocodile is right there in front of them about to jump out. Surprisingly, also, there are no jump scares in this movie, you know when that crocodile is there or it's in and out so fast you don't even see it.
My only real complaint about the movie, is it's title, ok it's a rogue crocodile, but this is much more about terror and territories than it is about rogues. I lost count of the amount of times I used the word terrifying, though there wasn't an alternative I could think of that was as apt.
This is a very, very good horror movie, which makes me happy because I never expected to have one in Killer Croc Season. I have the feeling it's all downhill from here of course.
9 out of 10
(Sadly, the dog dies, but I didn't want to mention it.)