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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Black Water: Abyss (M) - 99 minutes

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

A mildly entertaining, D-grade creature feature, Black Water: Abyss concerns a marauding crocodile in a subterranean cave system in northern Australia.

Five people – including two couples – set out on an adventure to explore the caves, which aren’t on any tourist map.

Outside, the weather is closing in – I speak of a tropical storm – while once the group has rappelled into the depths they are caught in a torrent of water.

The rising water table threatens to drown them, so they have to find a way out, but all possible entrances now appear to be blocked.

And let’s not forget they have an inconvenient man eater to deal with, which – of course – they didn’t know was there.

We’ve seen this sort of thing many times before.

It follows a pattern. You start with a certain number of people caught unaware and over time the creature or creatures picks them off one by one.

Some features along these lines are more arresting than others.

This is one of the latter, with several flat patches where very little happens.

There are also a few highly manufactured back stories.

Jen (Jessica McNamee – The Meg) doesn’t trust her he-man partner Eric (Luke Mitchell), so there is trouble in paradise.

Her friend, Yolanda (Amali Golden), hasn’t told her man, Viktor (Benjamin Hoetjes) – who is in remission from cancer – that she is pregnant.

And Cash (Anthony J Sharpe) went searching for a pair of missing Japanese tourists in the area but didn’t find them.

The trick with this sort of horror thriller is to keep the tension palpable throughout and to build an affinity for the characters with the audience.

On both those scores I felt letdown.

Black Water: Abyss is the sequel to the 2007 film Black Water, which was written and directed by the man who helms this one, Andrew Traucki, and became a cult favourite.

Try as these writers – Ian John Ridley and Sarah Smith – did, there simply wasn’t enough in Abyss, save for an unexpected twist near the end.

I wanted more surprises because I am afraid that for the rest of the journey the film well and truly signalled its punches.

Nor did I care enough about the fate of those involved.

I did note some stunning outdoor cinematography from Damien Beebe. Mind you, most of the movie is set below ground with torches and headlamps used in abundance.

At least one of the actors overacted to the billyo. He was the first to bite the dust or, rather, become predator prey.

Still, there has always been an audience for this kind of fare – good, bad or indifferent – especially among the young and impressionable.

Jaws set a high benchmark, which others simply aspire to.

If you don’t get the chance to see it in the cinema, it will be released on digital platforms on 23rd September, 2020.

Rated M, Black Water: Abyss scores a 5 out of 10.


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