Croc star! Snappy silliness in Black Water: Abyss
Director Andrew Traucki stays on common ground with shallow Australian monster movie
09 July, 2020 — By Dan Carrier
BLACK WATER: ABYSS
Directed by Andrew Traucki
“WHATEVER you do, don’t splash – do not move a muscle,” says cave-diving hunk Eric to his girlfriend Jennifer in Black Water: Abyss, a shamelessly cliché-ridden and escapist B-movie.
Easy advice to dish out, perhaps, but not so easy to take when you’re trapped underground in a cave rapidly filling with water and a 20ft-long Australian salt crocodile is ready for lunch.
Such a premise is common ground for director Andrew Traucki. He has form drawing on large Antipodean wildlife with a taste for blood: he specialises in monster movies set in Australia, and settles into the shocks and surprises as if they are his favourite pair of well-worn slippers.
In his 2007 film Black Water, a group of youngsters in northern Australia head into swamps and rivers and, you guessed it, get stalked by a whopper of a croc. This follow-up simply tweaks the setting slightly, but not the premise.
We meet two adventure-seeking couples. Sporty Eric (Luke Mitchell) and his girlfriend Jennifer (Jessica McNamee, who starred in the brilliantly bad Jason Statham monster flick, The Meg) are heading into the Outback with friends Yolanda (Amali Golden) and Viktor (Benjamin Hoetjes).
We learn Viktor has recently been treated for cancer and is in remission. He is persuaded that a bit of hiking and the excitement of some caving is just what he needs.
They are joined by outdoor stoner-type Cash (Anthony J Sharpe), who has his eyes on exploring a cave network and setting up tourist trips.
They lower themselves into the caverns beneath – just as a tropical storm breaks above ground, causing the cave network to flood and a number of scaly beasties to come looking for easy-to-catch food.
Will they find a way out? Who will sacrifice themselves for their friends? And what secrets do they hold about each other that may shape their responses?
Its fairly cheap set and effects only add to the charming silliness. You can imagine Traucki in a pitch meeting describing the size of this beast in an excited Australian accent, snapping his hands together to mimic its jaws.
And as with all good B-movies, the viewer can confidentially predict which character will get chomped first. The scares are also entirely telegraphed, and plot twists are also thrown into the mix to ensure the film does not stray for the genre’s formula.
It’s all the better for it: with no airs or pretensions, just an awareness of its own limitations as a story arc and making the best of a little budget, Black Water: Abyss’s merits lie in its unpretentiousness and shlocky approach.
• On general release