The late Roger Ebert was always coming up with rules about films, so here’s another one for the pile; beware the colon. Whether it’s Ballistics: Ecks vs Server or Black Ops: Legacy, the presence of a colon in your film’s title is often a clear sign of cinematic excrement. And so Black Water: Abyss, a sequel to a vaguely remembered 2007 killer crocodile film called Black Water, arrives on Netflix after a miniscule cinema run this summer; it’s a sorry excuse for a thriller with a lot of black water and not much croc to go around.
Seemingly set in the same cinematic universe as any Neighbours/Home and Away daytime soap, Andrew Trauchi’s supposed thriller focuses on five teenagers who go adventuring in a large black cave filled with water and, eventually, crocodiles. We get to the cave after ten minutes, and exit five minutes before the end credits; one of the characters mentions claustrophobia, and on this evidence, they’re right, this film actually feels like being stuck in a cave. With plenty of opportunity for chat, since there’s about 30 seconds of on-screen crocodile to pad around, there’s a lot of waffle about who has impregnated who, which feels somewhat off topic given that these teenagers are trapped in a cave full of crocodiles.
The actual photography featured here isn’t bad, and the film looks a little like Neil Marshall’s The Descent. The head-torches provide a cinematic look, even if the cave looks less than threatening, and the constant need to have passageways open and close to create divisions between the group is laboured. The final scenes, in which the croc stops sulking and takes the Jaws 4 route-one forward and attacks a car, are beyond ridiculous; where’s Michael Caine when you need him to lighten proceedings with a few funny stories about his sea-faring antics?
Black Water; Abyss is another sour stocking-filler from Netflix, a dull, amateurish clip-joint which looks like content but is realy just the streamer padding out a rather threadbare Xmas schedule. Creature features can be fun, for all ages, but film-makers have to put a spin on the most hackneyed of ideas, and Black Water: Abyss doesn’t have the chops to create any genuine frissons other than derisive laughter.