Black Water: Abyss
Jessica McNamee, Luke Mitchell, Amali Golden, Anthony J. Sharp, Benjamin Hoetjes
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…Traucki’s claustrophobic direction and ticking clock keeps the tension high for most of the runtime.
There are two types of people in this world. Those who look at a hole in the middle of an untamed wilderness and say, “oh grouse, let’s go climb inside that thing!” and those who sit on the couch, chortling, “yeah, nah, mate. Yeah, nah.” While it’s a far saner and more dignified proposition to be the latter, it’s the former that director Andrew Traucki tends to focus on. Traucki, who previously gave us Black Water (2007), The Reef (2010) and The Jungle (2013), returns to the well with Black Water: Abyss, a thematic sequel to the original Black Water, and the result is patchy but fun, for the most part.
Black Water: Abyss tells the tale of a group of friends who make the ill-advised decision to travel to the middle of nowhere and go caving in an untested cave system, because apparently the golden age of television isn’t good enough for these weirdos. Nature is a cruel and fickle dominatrix, and they are soon left stranded underground, with the water rapidly rising and a hungry crocodile prowling about ready to take a cheeky bite out of them. It’s a classic killer critter flick set up – one that Traucki has executed several times before – and is crudely effective.
Where Black Water: Abyss lets itself down a little is in the scripting. The attractive cast are capable for the most part but there’s not much going on beneath the surface. An infidelity subplot that feels borrowed from similarly subterranean monster flick The Descent (2005) adds a little meat to the bones, but compared to the surprising nuance of 2019’s Crawl, this feels a touch anemic. The croc itself is also far more effective when used sparingly, as Abyss’ clearly slender budget isn’t quite up to the task of delivering a realistic scaly monster. That said, Traucki’s claustrophobic direction and ticking clock keeps the tension high for most of the runtime.
Black Water: Abyss is a serviceable monster flick with some decent jolts. And while it doesn’t scale the heights of recent nature-gone-amok gems like Crawl, it’s a decent enough outing for folks who like watching beautiful people fall afoul of flesh-gnawing nasties.