Quick Hit: A fun creature fest with decent scares and a unique setting.
We’ve watched a variety of different horror, and obviously, since sometimes I get to pick the movies, creature features have to come up. They are a particular vein of movies that are one of my absolute favorites, and because I’ve always had a particular affinity for water, aquatic horror is something special. Usually, that’s limited to sharks – we’ve obviously reviewed a variety of those (Sharknado, The Shallows, The Meg, Deep Blue Sea). But luckily, Alexandre Aja (Director of High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes, and Piranha 3D), had other plans for us. He placed a horror film in sunny Florida during a hurricane and had us fear none other than American alligators.
I actually liked this one quite a bit. While it isn’t a stellar film if you’re looking for an Oscar, it checks all the boxes of a good “B” movie. The cast is small and full of disposable side characters, the story is tight and hurtles forward, and the action is gory and often. It’s everything that a good, “turn your brain off” flick should be.
The story is essentially that Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is an ex-swimmer who wants to check on her father when she hasn’t heard from him after an evacuation order is issued for an impending hurricane. She returns to her childhood home (of course she and her father became slightly estranged after a divorce) and finds her father in the basement. The basement is slowly filling with water due to the pouring rain, and she finds him trapped with a bite wound. The wound is from a huge alligator that has come in through the crawl space – and he’s not alone.
The film consistently borrows from other films, including one stellar sequence that feels straight out of Jurassic Park, when Laura Dern must find her way into the electronics area to reset the system. But it does so lovingly, and doesn’t directly copy anything. The action is spot on and the jump scares, while a bit telegraphed, are earned. The majority of the movie is accomplished by a tight cinematography by Aja and company. As most of the movie is composed within this limited setting, you do start to feel slightly claustrophic, and that’s mainly due to this camerawork.
I couldn’t rank it much higher, mainly because of the way that the characters seem able to shake off about any wound. While I like the spirit of the characters, and their ability to keep going, it does lose some of the realism that having photorealistic alligators snarling and attacking people seem to… require doesn’t seem to be the right word, but you get what I mean right? This doesn’t feel like Lake Placid – it feels like it’s supposed to me more grounded.
All and all, it’s a great creature feature that I’d highly recommend. I’m giving it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"