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December 5, 2009

Rogue

2007, Dir. by Greg McLean.

Somewhere between Jaws and Anaconda in style, Greg McLean's giant crocodile flick Rogue packs a lot of bite.

OK, I had to get that out of the way. On with the review.

Giant crocodile/alligator/snake/lizard films are a surprisingly hot commodity in the thriller world, and it's never easy for even the most astute horror connoisseur to tell the difference between them. Some are Hollywood B-Flicks with big stars (like Lake Placid or Anaconda), some are DTV/SyFy stinkers (like Croc or Python), and some hit the "so-bad-it's-awesome" plateau (like Boa vs. Python). But I don't know if there's ever been one as competent and exciting as Rogue.

The plot is simple and not very noteworthy. A wildlife tour group (led by Silent Hill's Radha Mitchell, who's very comfortable slipping back in to her native Australian accent) gets into the middle of nowhere and a giant crocodile attacks. This leaves the stranded tourists and locals (including future Hollywood stars Sam Worthington (Terminator 4, Avatar) and Mia Wasikowska (Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland); and Alias' Michael Vartan) to fight for survival.

What impresses me most about Rogue is its focus on building tension. Unlike most of the films I mentioned earlier, McLean seems to borrow from the likes of Hitchcock and Spielberg in building slowly while giving us ominous looks at what might be out there while developing sympathetic characters, hooking the viewer's interest in their survival. He also brings a string-heavy musical score that sets the mood for impending terror, and parallels the characters' fears perfectly.

Of course, this all comes crashing down when we finally get eyes on our gigantic killer, which is a sight to behold. To say that the effects are top-notch is an understatement, especially in the final act when we see the croc full on. There's little that would make you think this isn't a real giant crocodile, except of course the fact that giant crocodiles like this might not cooperate with the filming of a movie about them.

There are several truly frightening moments in Rogue, something that's so rare in movies today. Even if they are simple jump scares, they're executed perfectly by McLean and crew. After being branded as a member of the new-horror "Splat Pack", it's also notable that McLean's Rogue is relatively low on blood and guts, except for a couple of moments in the final reel. There are no one-liners, nor is there gratuitous nudity/drug use/irresponsibility. This is a pure thrill ride that doesn't pull punches, and for that alone I have to recommend it as one of the most thoroughly enjoyable horror films of the new millennium.

1 comment:

Geof said...

Great blog! Glad to have stumbled upon it.

Even though I am a big fan of giant monster movies, I read some very unfavorable reviews back in the day that made me stay clear of this one. After reading your review, I feel like I am missing out on something so I should check it out.