MOVIE: Rogue (2007)

Last month, I was pleasantly surprised by the awesomeness of a movie named Black Water, about a killer crocodile in Australia.  A few days after I reviewed it, a reader emailed me to tell me I just had to see HER favorite Aussie croc flick, Rogue, which also happened to star one of my ex-Boyfriends of the Week.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, in addition to featuring Michael Vartan as promised (hubba hubba), it was also written, produced, and directed by the same guy who made the Australian horror movie Wolf Creek, which was one of my favorite films of 2006.  Dude, sign me up!

I finally settled down to watch Rogue over the weekend, and while I will say it wasn’t as good as Black Water, it’s still pretty darned entertaining and well worth a rental for anybody who likes a decent man-eating monster movie.

Rogue opens with a fish-out-of-water character, magazine writer Pete McKell (Vartan), on assignment in Australia and bored off his behind.  To pass the time and potentially give himself something to write about, he decides to go on a boat tour of the local river, which runs through the Kakadu National Park in the northern part of Australia.  The tour guide, Kate Ryan (Radha Mitchell, who I love), starts the tour off with some fascinating information about the local crocodile population — information those of us who know from horror movies instantly recognize as fateful foreshadowing.

For example, we are told that the northern area of Australian has the most salt water crocodiles of anywhere in the world (which answers a previous question of mine: why are there so many crocodile movies set in Australia?).  We’re told they can grow to be quite enormous in size — 25 feet in length and over 2 tons in weight.  That they like to watch their prey for a while — stalk them, really — and learn their habits so they can sneak attack them when the time is right.  They can also jump right out of the water — quite high, as a matter of fact — and in the water, they can swim as fast as 20 mph.  ‘Zounds!

When the group sees their first crocodile in action (jumping right out of the water, no less), we overhear comments from the tourists along the lines of, “Imagine if it bit you!” and “Wow, looks like it could jump right into the boat!”  Kate replies soothingly, “You’ll be safe as long as you don’t go into the water.”  Words methinks she shall be eating quite soon.

The tour is almost over when suddenly, one of the tourists sees a flare go off in the distance.  Kate decides they’d better go check it out, so instead of heading for home, she makes the mistake of turning down a side river into an area she tells Pete they aren’t actually supposed to go into because it’s “protected.”  And if by now you still don’t know this boat is headed for major disaster, you just haven’t been paying attention, yo.

As it is quickly revealed to us, the flare was shot off by two idiots in a speedboat who had, earlier in the tour, been harassing Kate.  Unfortunately for all involved, there’s a REALLY BIG crocodile in that area with a bit of a territorial chip on his shoulder.  The croc ends up bumping both boats, sending all the humans on board into the drink.

The survivors of the first croc attack quickly swim to shore, but it’s clear from the terrain that the island they’ve landed on is one that disappears under water as soon as the tide comes in, and therefore, they’re going to have to get across the river to the land on the other side if they want to get out of there before the croc eats them all.

While they ponder what to do, the croc returns periodically to pick up another snack or two, and “Imagine if it bit you!” guy finally gets to live the dream.

Eventually, of course, they figure out a way across, and some of them make it and some of them don’t.  But the movie doesn’t end there, oh no.  Instead it goes on to a final act — one I think would’ve been better omitted, personally — that involves Kate being snatched by the croc and Pete, our intrepid hero, going after it to try to save her.  That, of course, results in a lengthy man vs. reptile fight scene, for better or for worse, and an extremely disappointing lack of trauma-induced making-out on the part of the two main characters.  All that and still no kissing?  What WAS the point, I ask you?

Though this is definitely NOT as good as Black Water, which featured much more authentic suspense and a lot less predictability and silliness, I still really enjoyed this flick.  Vartan and Mitchell are both good, and it was also nice seeing John Jarratt as someone NOT totally freaky-psycho (he played the creepy Crocodile Dundee killer in Wolf Creek, but is a big sweetie in this one).  If you enjoyed Black Water, or you like creature features in general, this one is definitely worth a rental.

Actually, pick up Black Water while you’re at it, invite me over, and we’ll make it a crocodilian double feature!  I’ll bring the popcorn.

And also, my cat.  Just in case we need to use her as bait.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Horror
Cast:  Michael Vartan, Radha Mitchell, John Jarratt, Sam Worthington, Caroline Brazier

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