Personally I’m one who thought Greg McLean’s torture porn thriller “Wolf Creek” was one of the most bloated overrated and disgusting movies I’ve ever seen. For a guy whose seen stuff like “Cannibal Holocaust,” McLean’s picture left me feeling dirty and often times like I was enduring something extremely painful, and not intentionally. Whatever McLean had in mind for that piece of swill, he accomplished it apparently. “Rogue” doesn’t leave the Australian outback and this time focuses more on a claustrophobic setting involving stranded tourists on a creaky boat being stalked by a gigantic killer Crocodile.
“Rogue” is a classic killer animal movie involving the fish out of water American (the underrated Michael Vartan), the rambunctious dog who acts as a plot device signaling the crocodile, the vulnerable girl (the always lovely Mia Wasikowska) and her parents, the mysterious tourist, the dysfunctional couple, and the eternally striking Radha Mitchell who is the seasoned ship captain whose own sense of experience means nothing when confronted with a monstrous water giant intent on chomping on every hapless tourist on the boat above it. As with most of the killer animal flicks, the downfall of these band of survivors is their own paranoia and fright leaving the predator to do its work and fill its stomach, and “Rogue” doesn’t waste time on melodrama and pointless back stories as McLean’s previous film did.
After responding to a distress flair, Kate Ryan and her tourist group are trapped and marooned by a gigantic crocodile who is a natural hunter up against people who are at its mercy and without radio contact with the outside world. This allows for some fairly entertaining bickering and panicked stalking sequences as well as a surprising turn from Sam Worthington as the resident heel forced to stick with the group when the crocodile begins hunting and chomping. McLean’s direction is polished this go around with some beautiful establishing shots and a sharper cinematography. As well, he and his crew rely on traditional special effects practicing the “Jaws” methodology by showing very little of the crocodile and leaving it up to the audience to decide what this juggernaut will look like.
The fight for survival among the boat passengers is a very harrowing one and one that involves arguing, fist fights, and the need to live all providing an opportunity for this predator to strike, and McLean constantly keeps this a man vs. nature horror film first, and a survival thriller second. McLean knows that the worst enemy of these survivors is not so much the Crocodile, but the Australian wilderness, and he delivers such a conflict in spades, more than making up for “Wolf Creek.” The sad fact of McLean’s horror film is that by the time the second half rolls around he’s seemingly run out of ideas, thus the whole ordeal of a group of people on a small rock against a giant crocodile is quickly tired and he branches out by providing the audience with more of a natural obstacle while bringing out Vartan’s character in to nature in a final battle with the giant crocodile.
While visually it is a very entertaining climax, McLean has clearly run out of excuses to keep his characters marooned and turns the entire story in to one man vs. beast mission with Vartan becoming primal in order to save lives, and realism taking a backseat to dread. Unless a movie really has innovative writers, there’s not much to do with one location and a lot of characters and McLean shows it. In spite of a weak finale that meanders from the actual premise of “Rogue,” Greg McLean makes up for “Wolf Creek” with an intense and entertaining killer croc movie with sharp special effects, and strong performances from a very respectable cast, all of whom present a realistic friction that keeps audiences on edge until the closing credits. I highly suggest it for anyone looking for a solid ninety minutes of man eating entertainment.