Black Water: Abyss

ALTITUDE FILM DISTRIBUTION (2020)

 

Director: Andrew Traucki

 

Starring: Jessica McNamee, Luke Mitchell, Amali Golden, Benjamin Hoetjes, Anthony J. Sharpe

2007’s Black Water was a surprisingly decent movie that came out of nowhere. Based on true events, it saw three unlucky people stranded in a Northern Australian swamp with a hungry crocodile waiting for its next meal. It was simplicity executed effectively. It performed well at the box office and was warmly received so, thirteen years later, here we are with the sequel – Black Water: Abyss.

This time, we have five young, yet wonderfully unmatched, adventure-seekers whose turn it is to be croc chow. Having discovered a previously unexplored cave, the gang soon find themselves in major trouble as a tropical storm outside causes the cave to flood inside leaving them to fend off the peril of drowning and being eaten by a massive crocodile that calls the cave its home. Traucki has taken the premise of the first movie, increased the character count but taken it into an even more restrictive area (the cave itself allows for greater movement for the characters, but a massive stretch of water between each potential exit doesn’t...) so at the very least it should be as compelling as Black Water? Sadly, this isn’t the case. Where Black Water gave us enough time with the characters to allow us to care, Abyss frustratingly throws this away in favour of shallow, generic characters whilst still expecting us to care for their fates. Jessica McNamee’s Jennifer is our relatable lead and she gives her all, but the rest of the gang are so unlikable or bland I wasn’t bothered when the body count started stacking up – despite the attempts at melodrama once the panic sets in. There are some decent sequences when everything begins to go south – always involving any character having to go into the water for a variety of reasons - but eventually these become telegraphed to death and any suspense becomes diminished (see: one character checking underwater for crocs once, then immediately again...then AGAIN? All whilst treading water in the same place) and this becomes the main issue for Abyss, it just isn’t suspenseful nor terrifying – it’s run-of-the-mill and that’s hugely disappointing for a sequel which had some promise given the plot. On top of that, certain elements have been lifted directly from the first movie – one gratuitously – which immediately made me question the point of this sequel when major moments were witnessed thirteen years prior to this being released. Underwhelming and far from thrilling, Black Water: Abyss is a big, wet disappointment.

August 7th 2020

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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