When I was little my brothers and I used to play a game we called “hot lava.” To play the game, you simply pretend that your orange wall-to-wall shag carpeting is hot lava. You can climb and walk on the couch, the coffee table or any bureau or shelf you can reach but you can’t let your feet touch the floor. If you’re feeling adventurous you can throw books or sofa cushions down to make a path/walkway but if you should ever touch the ground with your feet, that’s it…you’re ash. Obviously this is the funnest, most challenging game ever invented so if you don’t have orange shag wall-to-wall carpet, maybe you should invest in some today and check it out.
Wait a minute, my spell-check thingy is trying to tell me that “funnest” isn’t a word. Are you serious? Would someone please make that a word already? It’s frickin’ 2010.
Where was I? Oh yea, so I was thinking about the game “hot lava” the whole time I was watching the lil’ Aussie movie with a heart of gold called BLACK WATER! BLACK WATER (2007) is the story of some folks whose boat gets tipped over by a crocodile in the mangrove swamps of Australia and they end up clinging for their lives in some trees. Every time one of the survivors tries to climb down from said trees they more often than not get chomped to shreds by the cranky croc. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a plot but trust me, this movie delivers the goods and it does so in a respectable way.
Rather than “hot lava” this movie will probably remind normal viewers of the same year’s ROUGE, another Aussie swamp croc flick from the guy who did WOLF CREEK. Now, I liked ROGUE so I’m not going to rag on it but BLACK WATER handles similar material with a fraction of the budget and with no help from the ever persuasive RADHA MITCHELL. The biggest distinction though is that BLACK WATER actually uses real crocs rather than CGI beasts and what a difference that makes.
Don’t tell the SYFI channel (it’ll break its heart!) but Mother Nature made some creatures (crocodiles for instance) so scary that they need no embellishment. Your garden variety crocodile is covered with slimy dragon scales, has piercing demon eyes and a large snarly mouth which is host to about a zillion razor sharp teeth. It really doesn’t have to guzzle radioactive waste and grow seventy feet tall to kick your ass. If you’ve only seen the depressed kind in your local concentration camp, I mean zoo, let me tell ya it’s a different story on their own turf. BLACK WATER makes use of the whole “home team advantage” thing.
I hate to make broad generalizations but since this is a positive one, indulge me. Australian horror movies tend to have a genuine connection to their land that I admire. Films as varied as THE LONG WEEKEND(1978), WOLF CREEK and especially NICOLAS ROEG’s borderline horror flick WALKABOUT(1971) have such a readable reverent awe towards nature that it just feeds into your primitive primal fears about how unblinkingly arbitrary survival is. Good for you, Australia! I swear to God as soon as they invent a teleporting device I’m going to come visit you! (There’s really no way I could ever spend the 14 hours on an airplane it would take to visit you from where I am now.) By the way scientists, what the hell is the hold up with teleportation? I feel like if I was a scientist I would have figured that shit out by now. Do you guys already have teleportation and you’re just not sharing it?
BLACK WATER is a tight little nature hates you thriller that’s unlikely to inspire fanaticism but is, all and all, a guilt free satisfying experience. You get to know the characters, you care when they die and you empathize with their shitty day from hell that destroys all their pie in the sky dreams for the future in one fatal swoop. The biggest compliment I can give this movie is the simplest one; after it was done I checked IMDb to see if the directors (DAVID NERLICH & ANDREW TRAUCKI) had done anything else. Turns out TRAUCKI has just completed a shark movie called REEF, and if someone out there only had the foresight to invent a time machine (like it would be that hard), I could be watching it right now.