Rogue- (of an animal) having an abnormally savage or unpredictable disposition, vicious or solitary, as a rogue elephant.
After the huge success of "JAWS", producers have been trying to capitalize on the undersea horror genre. There have been quite a number of underwater horror films about killer crocodiles recently; "Lake Placid", "Primeval" and "Crocodile", among others. "ROGUE" is another horror film about a huge crocodile and while this film may follow the usual stereotypical plot that have plagued the genre for many years, it does have its redeeming moments. It had a very limited theatrical release perhaps because the producers felt that audiences may be a little tired of the "croc on a rampage" storyline?
Pete (Michael Vartan) is a reporter on assignment in the Australian outback. He decides to take a scenic boat tour led by Kate (Radha Mitchell), along with a bunch of other tourists. The folks are enjoying themselves, they take in the sights, swat flies, watch salt water crocs socialize (in a way) with other tourists. During the tour, Kate spots a signal flare and decides to investigate. Once in the secluded site, the group of people realizes that they are in the territory of a monstrous saltwater crocodile that swiftly sinks their boat. The tourists find themselves at the mercy of a huge predator who has a taste for human flesh and the rising waters on a tiny slump of land.
I know what you're thinking, the film must be a rethread of previous monster flicks and there is nothing to see here. Well, the film is written/directed by Greg McLean, also responsible for the torture flick "Wolf Creek". I'm not exactly sure how you felt about that film but I thought "Wolf Creek" wasn't a real effective thriller (good but it wasn't great). "Rogue" does have its flaws but I think Mclean did serve up a solid thriller with his ambitious attempts at intensity and suspense, by not relying on explosions, character stupidity and an overload of blood and gore.
The direction by McLean opted for not giving away too much, too early, and I thought that was a clever move. You don't really see the croc until the 50 minute mark, but the proceedings do give hints of just how big it is by exposing its tail, mouth and just how powerful it is. The film's last act is actually the icing on the cake, when you really see just how HUGELY impressive our antagonist really is. Shades of "JAWS" anyone? The survivors of the attack actually suffer through panic, desperation and fear, but they are not really unlikable characters, just look at them the same way when you visit a new city. You would barely know anything about anyone, so I was able to look past the film‘s lack of character development. The film is successful in generating a feeling of claustrophobia and helplessness, as the tide is rising and there's a gigantic man-eater swimming around, that takes them out one by one; McLean also maintains the tension by focusing on the group of tourists and not just the "hero" of the film.
Now, the film does take a hit on realism. Saltwater Crocodiles (and no matter how big) are cold-blooded reptiles so when the sun's up, they need to bask in the sun otherwise, well, their blood may stop circulating. I do watch enough of Discovery channel to know this, and well, our killer crocodile seems to be an animal on steroids that he does not need to warm himself up? The film's little "main event" takes place in a not so believable area and our croc‘s savagery seem a little too over-the-top. But hey, this is a movie, right? Maybe this is the animal's "rogue" behavior in play?
The film does have the stereotypical characters but thankfully, Mclean manages to fit everything together. "Rogue" isn‘t prefect, but it is a lot better than "Primeval". The film is actually is panic-induced piece, while Pete and Kate try their best to outsmart the huge animal and try to survive. The film does have a fair amount of blood and gore but most of the killings happen off-camera, and the CGI effects are solid enough for the most part. The film does deliver a satisfying man vs. monster encounter and the film's direction is competent enough that the film is easily understood and taken in. Mclean also doesn't portray the croc as mindless killing machine bent on just eating anyone in sight, this monster is cunning and he likes and stays within his territory, anyone who marches in is its food.
"ROGUE" is a film with modest intentions and I appreciated McLean's sense of restraint in his direction. He wisely avoids the flashy explosions, the usual perfunctory resolution in its climax and the film does have a satisfying enough closure. The film is a successful blend of B-movie thrills and chills that is aimed at horror fans. The film does stay true to its limited concept and it does go straight to the conflict. "ROGUE" doesn't reinvent the "monster" genre but it doesn't hurt it either. For a film with a limited budget, it is a satisfying enough diversion.
Recommended timidly, rent it first [3 ½ Stars]
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