This little film surprised me. There is real craftsmanship at work here from Alexandre Aja. It was really refreshing to see a film set in Florida during a hurricane, just due to the fact that hurricanes are rarely put to film. The fresh setting and circumstance really gave the film a unique look and feel.
The structure of the narrative was very tight and effective, pushing the characters into interesting situations. I loved the “ticking time bomb” function of the flood, it just added a very palpable layer of tension during the first and second acts. The emotional core of the story was very simplistic and conventional but turned out to be just effective enough due to some really committed performances from Kaya Scoledaro and Barry Pepper.
With all of that said, the success of this film completely hinges on the gators and the storm. They are the main driver of the tension in this film and it’s imperative that we as the audience take them seriously. I’m happy to say I was very impressed with the rendering and animation of the gators. Aside from the hyper aggressive and bloodthirsty nature that is needed for a film like this, they really were portrayed very authentically and their movement felt natural.
While the gators were admittedly serious and imposing, you could really feel Sam Raimis influence here lightening the tone. The film never took itself too seriously and some sequences had a lot of fun with the absurdity of the situation. The parts that kept me from loving the film were the very slow first act, some really cringeworthy dialogue, the injuries, and a few lacking cgi moments. Honestly characters in this film experienced devastating injuries fairly early into the second act. As the film went on, those injuries and others they experienced, felt more and more inconsequential, barely slowing them down at all.
This was a very simple story and interesting concept stretched to its limit for entertainment value. A fast, efficient, and very well directed thriller. I had a lot of fun watching this. What Aja was able to achieve with a 13.5 million dollar budget is remarkable and I look forward to seeing what he does next.
P.s. possible spoiler below
Can we PLEASE stop doing the “Three emotional punches to the chest, CPR revival”???
It has run its course