by FilmInk staff

Nearly 15 years after its release, Black Water is still making a splash among both local and international audiences. Co-written and co-directed by Andrew Traucki, the film follows three holidaying Australians who find themselves prey to a hungry crocodile.

Becoming known within the industry as the “Creature Feature guy”, Traucki has directed many follow-up survival films, including a sequel to Black Water, Black Water: Abyss, which came out late last year.

Heralded for its gritty realism – which can partly be attributed to the film’s use of a real crocodile – Black Water has well and truly cemented itself as an iconic Australian survival film.

A Blu-ray version of Black Water has been released this year by Umbrella Entertainment.

What attracts you to the Creature Feature subgenre over others? Or what initially attracted you?

“I like suspense thrillers, especially survival ones. Ultimately, it was pure pragmatism. I came up with a story that [required] a relatively small budget and that therefore allowed me to create a film. Like it or not, [Black Water] was successful and so I became the “Creature Feature guy”. You get pigeon-holed very quickly, so even though I’ve got lots of scripts for other things, it seems the only things I can make money on are these sorts of films!”

What thought process went into deciding which character survives at the end?

“You’re trying to wrong-foot the audience, I guess. I also was aware that in American movies, everyone knows it’s a happy ending. In the original, I didn’t actually want that to happen. It was about wrong-footing the audience. That’s the game everybody plays in these films: who’s going to get eaten next? Who’s dying next? I was trying to wrong-foot the audience and also just give it the most emotional impact I can, because obviously what you’re trying to do is give the audience an emotional ride. It’s got to be scary and thrilling, but hopefully they also care for the characters. You’re trying to make sure that you deliver something that makes them feel for those characters.”

[The next question contains a major spoiler]

There’s a moment after Lee kills the crocodile that I actually felt sorry for it. Was this intentional?

“It’s an interesting thing, isn’t it? Because really, it’s only an animal. It’s just doing what it’s instincts tell it to do, so it’s not like it’s pure evil – it’s not like humans, who contrive to do evil. I can see that mixed feeling. I certainly had that feeling. At the same time, I guess, we’re with the heroine and so we’re really wanting to make sure she lives so it’s kind of a necessary part of the script.”

The sequel to Black Water, Black Water: Abyss, came out late last year. It’s a different setting to the original. Do you have plans to come up with another idea for the franchise?

“Not really. Not at the moment. I didn’t write Black Water: Abyss; it was brought to me by the producer of Black Water. What attracted me was that it was set in a cave. We all know the dark is a wonderful place to set a horror/thriller so I thought, ‘Wow! What a chance to make this even spookier!’

“But no, it’s not my huge ambition to keep on making crocodile films. It’s just that if the right script presents itself and the right opportunity’s there, I’ll go for it. It was only because I thought it was a unique opportunity to do something I hadn’t seen before.”

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about crocodiles through your research?

“There is the leaping – I never realised how far they can leap which was a really interesting factor. And they will stalk you, unlike a shark which just comes around and if you’re there, he will just just eat you or bite you. But the crocodile will check you out and check your movements. You have to break up your routine if you’re near a river full of crocodiles because they’ll plan how they’ll catch you. A shark isn’t really like that.”

I read that crocodiles splash twigs in the water to lure in birds!

“Is that right?! They’re very good at going, ‘You’re there, I’m here. How do I get a bit closer?’ And when [they’re] in range whack! You’re gone.”

So… Do you prefer crocodiles or sharks?

“To tell you the truth, if I had to face one in the wild, I’d rather face a shark. Crocodiles are very cunning. They’re opportunistic predators. Whereas when you read about the shark – the tiger shark or something like that; maybe the bull shark – it’s hunting, but then it makes a mistake.

“I guess I prefer sharks!”

You can purchase Black Water on Blu-ray via Umbrella entertainment’s official website 

Special features include:

Audio commentary with Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich

The Making of Black Water 

Deleted scenes

Theatrical trailer

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