Andrew Traucki clearly likes monster flicks. His previous efforts, The Reef and The Jungle, were about a shark and a leopard, respectively. A “spiritual sequel” to his 2007 Black Water, Black Water: Abyss pits its characters against a vicious crocodile. I can hear the pitch meeting. Traucki: “A group of young people encounters a deadly croc in the deep caves of North Australia.” Exec: “Why this has never been done before! Fu**ing sold! Here’s twenty thousand dollars and a GoPro.”
I’m exaggerating. The filmmakers used better cameras, and the budget was clearly bigger. Neither of those things would matter if Traucki and his team found a somewhat-original approach to this well-worn cinematic staple. It’s quite impressive, actually – for a very short time, mind you, before it becomes mind-numbing – how resolutely the film follows every predictable beat.
“A group of young people encounters a deadly crocodile in the deep caves of North Australia.”
An eager guide leads a bunch of clueless young explorers in Northern Australia to a notoriously infamous cave system. They descend into the cold darkness from the swampy jungle and then crawl deeper into the increasingly-claustrophobic tunnels. After the victorious discovery of an underwater lake, they proceed even deeper. Suddenly a crocodile attacks.
What follows is a series of wondrous discoveries and nail-biting scenes to rival those of, say, The Descent. Nah, I’m obviously full of crap. Black Water: Abyss doesn’t come close to matching Neil Marshall’s cult classic. Where Marshall expertly handled things like developing protagonists to root for, escalating tension, and creating an atmosphere of unbearable suffocation. Traucki is content to chuck his throwaway human puppets into the maws of a barely-visible beast.
"…if you've come for the croc, you'll be sorely disappointed."