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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Review: Black Water: Abyss

Director: Andrew Traucki
Screenplay: John Ridley and Sarah Smith
Year: 2020

We are in the middle of summer, which for many, is the time to visit water bodies looking to get refreshed and fight against the high temperatures that many places experience. For horror fans, this period has another attraction: exploring the horrors that lurk underwater through creature features. Just a few days ago we reviewed the shark movie "Deep Blue Sea 3" and today another apex predator gets the chance to leave a lasting footprint. 

A group of five friends plans a trip to explore a cave system inside an Australian forest. Near this cave, two tourists vanished without a trace and a storm creeps near the area, but this is just a small part of their worries. One they get inside the cave, they discover a natural pool, which hosts a dangerous surprise.

After exploring the cave a little bit, the group notices that the water level is quickly rising and that if they don't get out of there quickly they will be trapped inside. However, a sudden flash flood makes this scenario a reality, and they are forced to change their plans. The rising water level is just one of their problems, as they soon discover that a huge and unfriendly crocodile moves in the water.

“Black Water: Abyss” is the sequel to the well-received “Black Water”. However, as what happens with “Deep Blue Sea 3” or “47 Meters Down: Uncaged”, this sequel holds little relationship with its predecessor besides for the apex predator that stalks and some winks to important scenes. The director Andrew Traucki, who is experienced in creature features after having directed “Black Water” and “The Reef”, this time chooses a confined space location where claustrophobia and the feeling of constant danger reigns in a way that is reminiscent of “The Descent”, although not at the same level.

From the start, I was expecting the worst from “Black Water: Abyss”, since the opening scene leaves a lot to be desired, and the protagonists’ group is not very interesting. Once they reach the cave, what happens early, it takes a shift for the best. It is clear that the idea was always to develop the movie inside the cave and the script from John Ridley (“Wentworth”) and Sarah Smith (“Wild Boys”) takes the protagonist there as soon as possible so that the plot and tension start taking form with the precarious events that take place there. 

Like in “Black Water”, this sequel does a great job of presenting the crocodile in a realistic and convincing way, enhancing the notion that this is something that could happen. The look of the crocodile is excellent, and it is hard to think that it is not a real one. Its size and shape, as well as its behavior and movements, makes it a constant threat without having to go to the absurd with a larger than normal predator or some other variant. “Black Water: Abyss” accepts that crocodiles are terrifying as they are and exploit this quality to expose it to a group of humans trapped under unfavorable conditions.

The characters and how uninteresting they are is the biggest flaw of “Black Water: Abyss”. Since the start, they don't come out as interesting and the acting doesn't help much. As the plot progresses, some drama unfolds among them, but it's never enough for you to care about who can manage to get out of there alive. This, together with some issues in the sound editing and the repetitive background music, are some of the minor details that affect the quality of the movie and that reveals where the bulk of the budget went to. 

“Black Water: Abyss” puts together a group of uninteresting friends on a streak of bad decisions where they end up trapped in a cave system that hosts a dangerous crocodile. The feeling of claustrophobia and constant danger, together with the realistic and well-utilized appearance of the crocodile, keeps the tension high. This movie ended up being much more entertaining than expected and is an excellent entry to the collection of apex predator creature features that we have received in the past few years.

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