Black Water: Abyss – Film Review

Water horror? Is it a sub-genre? I’m not sure to be honest, but if it is, then Australian director Andrew Traucki would be the king of it. A festival of his films would have people declaring they would stay out of water for a long time to come.

See, one of things that I love about Traucki’s body of work is that he makes horror films that are so realistic, you can easily imagine yourself getting into that sticky situation. Traucki doesn’t make movies about mysterious things that go bump in the night. He makes films like Black Water, a film about a group of friends going for a leisurely boat-ride and suddenly finding themselves stranded with a killer croc between them and safety. Then there was The Reef in which a group of scuba divers find themselves stranded with only Jaws’ cousin to keep them company.

Given his track record, I was excited to see what Traucki would do with Black Water: Abyss, yet at the same I was a little bemused at why he was making a sequel to the brilliant Black Water some thirteen years later after the original. After watching the film, I am even more stunned. The original Black Water is one of Australia’s hidden gems; it was largely over-shadowed by the better box-office performing Rogue, yet this follow-up is mediocre at best.

The problem with Black Water: Abyss is its characters, its plot and its believability. While Traucki’s films have all been believable this one is not. While yes a group of cave explorers could become trapped with a killer croc – the idea that an expert cave diver like Eric (Luke Mitchell – Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) would go into an unknown cave system while there is bad weather anywhere in the state is unbelievable. It goes against caving 101.

The second problem with the film is the characters themselves. Important relationships and secrets that the characters have, should have been revealed a lot earlier in a bid to raise the tension, while Cash (Anthony J. Sharpe – Hunter’s Moon) is just a walking cliché. He almost feels like he is there for comedic relief, when no comedy is needed in this film. Then sadly there are characters like Viktor (Benjamin Hoetjes – The Code) and Yolanda (Amali Golden – The Invisible Man) who are so bland you don’t really care whether they become a croc snack or not.

Likewise, the film’s plot never elevates to the level of suspense that I thought it would. I believe a film about people trapped in a cave with rising water and a crocodile would have been a pretty suspenseful affair but instead it felt like the characters were just wandering from cave to cave with the suspense only raising occasionally when the croc decided it was time for a snack.

Fans of the original Black Water should not go into this film expecting something as equally as good like I did. The original film is a reminder of just how good low-budget Aussie thrillers can be… the sequel is a massive let-down.

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