"The saltwater crocodile is probably the most dangerous member of the crocodilian family. They can swim underwater at up to 20 miles an hour without making a ripple on the surface. And they can burst out to attack...with incredible speed."
To the inexpert eye, one might see Rogue as your customary crocodile horror flick in the same league as Lake Placid or Primeval. Hollywood distributors have no shame in releasing a countless amount of monster movies that resulted in being pure rubbish.
Greg McLean stunned audiences in 2005 with the release of his low-budget horror movie Wolf Creek. As I wasn't a fan of McLean's Wolf Creek my expectations had not been raised overwhelmingly high for this film. Rogue sounds like your standard concept of a large man-eating crocodile chowing down on a few people who wander into its lair. But the results are quite the opposite...in fact this is the only decent crocodile horror movie that has ever been released.
Set in the Northern Territory, a cynical American travel writer named Pete McKell (Vartan) is sent on assignment to the Australia outback. Pete joins a bunch of tourists on a river cruise heading out to witness some crocodiles. Pete initially clashes with tour captain Kate Ryan (Mitchell): a spirited woman who simply figures him for a depressing American in search of a cheap thrill. After an uneventful day in the murky river, one of the tourists spots what appears to be a distress flair. Bound by her obligations, Kate is forced to enter unfamiliar waters to investigate. The group are blissfully unaware that they have stumbled into a region occupied by a terrestrial giant man-eating crocodile. With the group stranded on a secluded island with no radio or communication, a fight for survival emerges as enormous crocodile circles below...
The distributors for this movie delayed its release on several occasions. Why? Because 2007 also had FOUR other killer crocodile movies set for release (another being a low-budget Aussie production). By all accounts, McLean's Rogue emerged as the superior film. Although having an extraordinarily low budget for a monster blockbuster, McLean doesn't let a cent of that money go to waste. Unlike most Hollywood croc films, McLean's team actually conducted thorough research into the movements and habits of the saltwater crocodile. The filmmakers utilised an actual rubber crocodile (gorgeously detailed) with some CGI that looks stunning. This may be a low-budget Australian movie, but the special effects are truly astonishing.
The script does contain some predictable scares and clichéd characters; however it's the best screenplay written thus far for a crocodile movie. Firstly, the dialogue is realistic. Secondly, the characters are realistic. Thirdly, about 80% of the genre's clichés have been removed. McLean delicately allows the audience to familiarise themselves with each character as some head towards their imminent doom. The character development is strong and fascinating: there's clever dialogue and interesting personalities. The only flaw is that the characters sometimes suffer from the typical clichés of the genre. We usually know which characters are going to get killed first.
The film's two central characters are played to perfection by Radha Mitchell and Michael Vartan. A special mention must be made about Stephen Curry. Essentially, he's the film's comic relief: your mainstream beer-drinking Aussie who makes funny remarks.
Young director Greg McLean has crafted this movie almost faultlessly. He effectively makes use of everything at his disposal: there are sweeping shots of the gorgeous locations and some intense horror scenes that are skilfully filmed. The score is also a particular stand-out. Whenever a piece of marvellous cinematography is showcased the score suits the atmosphere.
Rogue may be a low-budget Australian movie but it's the definitive croc experience. It's by no means perfect due to a few problems in the screenwriting department, but this is superior to any and all crocodile movies preceding its release. It's suspenseful, chilling and atmospheric. Highly recommended!