- Katie Bell
Black Water: Abyss (2020)
From the people who brought you 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, comes the one-of-a-kind, totally original film, Black Water: Abyss (2020), which is definitely unlike anything you've ever seen before. "Hang on..." I hear you say. "47 Meters Down: Uncaged was about cave diving with a shark. Isn't Black Water: Abyss about cave diving with a croc?"
Well, avid Inconceivable! Reviews reader, we have to admit, you are correct in that regard, but you have missed some very important differences! Such as the fact that 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, features four friends, unlike the five that we follow in Black Water: Abyss. And whilst Uncaged takes place in North America, the events of Abyss unfold in not-so-sunny Cairns!
But yeah, other than that, totally the same.
Just in case you didn't read my review of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (www.inconceivablereviews.com/post/47-meters-down-uncaged-2019), I'll give you a brief synopsis of Black Water: Abyss. Five friends decide to ignore the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and investigate an unexplored cave in tropical Cairns. #whatcouldpossiblygowrong
What happens next? Well it's the tropics, and BOM is always right. It rains. It pours. The crocodile doesn't snore. (And there's a not-so-subtle reference to Jumanji in the line "A little bit of water's not gonna hurt ya'").
Anyone remember what happened next?
So yes, our intrepid explorers set off to explore unexplored caves, hoping to find the next big north Queensland tourism hot spot. Although they don't think to tell anyone about their plans, they do pack an awesome lamp! "120 hours full charge. Worth every cent."
Spoiler Alert: It really isn't.
Whilst I did enjoy the fact that this is an Aussie horror with a croc, I also think that a few changes would have made this film markedly better. Firstly, our protagonists are kind of dumb. To be fair, this is to be expected in your run of the mill horror film. However, there are moments in this film that far exceed the typical, "let's split up" or "I'll be back soon". There are simple moments of idiocy, like when characters duck underwater to see what's there. Ever put your head underwater in a creek? Ever done it in the dark? Visibility not good. That's the short of it. No idea why they kept doing this. Actually, it was probably because the Director of Photography wanted to use the underwater camera. Then there is the moment when one of our five friends is mauled by the croc, and shortly afterwards Jennifer tries to reassure them by saying, "those painkillers should kick in soon". Jennifer...did you just give someone panadol to combat the pain of a crocodile mauling? Finally, these people bring a knife to a crocodile fight. It's definitely an allusion to Crocodile Dundee, but it's idiotic nonetheless.
In some regards, the creators are intelligent, but I wish they weren't. It's definitely an aesthetic choice, but it's something that I found mildly frustrating throughout the whole film. All of the characters are wearing headlamps and they are also all holding torches. I understand that in real life, a headlamp likely wouldn't be enough to light up a cave. However I think in film, you can cheat it a little. If five people have headlamps turned on, the audience will assume that they can see. Hell, worst case scenario, that INSANELY GOOD LAMP with 120 hours of battery life, didn't need to die for absolutely no reason, and to no effect. Just turn it on, light up the whole cave and free up your actors' hands. ...Hopefully I'm not the only one who found the constancy of ten torches to be irritating.
Let's talk about the score. Whilst the music in this film is by no means bad, I did find it to be fairly ineffective at times. This is mostly because it's really quiet. I was begging for the crescendo of the Jaws music. However, whenever the croc was nearby, I had to actually focus and listen in order to hear the music. It really should have been the other way around; the actors should have been drowned out by dramatic music that drove the tension through the roof. Instead, we'd get a mid-shot of two people panic swimming, juxtaposed against a shot of a crocodile swimming in virtual silence. Without any loud music, it could have almost been a shot from a documentary. Every time croc popped up, he looked like less of a menace, and more like he was just doing his thing and having a good ol' time in his cave. Like I said, if you focus on the music, the score isn't bad at all. The problem is, it's not really doing its job. You have to really look for it to notice it, and this works against the film in terms of including well-executed jump scares and developing tension.
While my critiques have sounded quite harsh so far, it's important to say that I didn't hate this film. I did however hate the Home and Away sub-plot. Long story short: there are two couples in this cave, and there is some cheating happening. And she's pregnant. And she tells them in the cave. And her partner thinks it's a miracle baby because he's had cancer and was under the impression that he couldn't conceive. And she tells the other guy and he hardly reacts. And then when it all comes out, his girlfriend asks, "Is the baby yours?" and he looks away ashamedly, despite not knowing anything about the date of conception and having only just found out about the baby's existence. Why did this have to happen? This sub-plot actually turned me against pretty much the whole cast. I wanted the crocodile to eat them. Please! Please eat them! (Except for Viktor, he seems alright).
This one might be worth a watch. Especially if you've never seen a game of chicken between a crocodile and a car in a creek. 10/10. This might just be my favourite game of chicken ever.