Black Water Abyss (2020) – Film Review


Black Water Abyss offers up a claustrophobic thriller for film fans chomping at the bit to get back to the cinema.

The Descent meets Crawl as five friends exploring a remote cave system in Northern Australia find themselves in danger from a hungry crocodile.

Director Andrew Traucki gradually dials up the sense of claustrophobia as the group travel further underground. There tensions between them rise as fast as the impending water levels.

Drawn with the thinnest of sketches, the two central couples are neither empathetic or engaging. Plus a plot development regarding their relationship is too obviously signposted. Unlike the cave system they become trapped in ironically.

Generating a connection to the people in peril is essential for an audience to will them to survive their adventure. As a result, instead of becoming appealing characters they are simply appealing appetisers for the killer croc that discovers an all-you-can-eat buffet on its doorstep.

Whether an homage to Bruce the Shark in Jaws, or budgetary concerns, the crocodile spends the majority of the time off-screen. Used instead as a constant invisible threat before making jump scare appearances… not signposted by a John Williams-esque score at least.

The score, when it does appear, fails to elevate the drama during the final act. Therefore moments of tension, horror and temporary triumph fall flat.

There are also far too many scenes of inaction, with characters sitting on rocks weighing up their options. Despite being 98 minutes, it could have easily shaved ten minutes of its runtime for a snappier affair.

One should never smile at a crocodile and Black Water Abyss certainly doesn’t raise a smile but there is also a disappointing lack of screams in this lake flaccid thriller that ultimately lacks bite.

Film Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Black Water Abyss is in cinemas now.

Director: Andrew Traucki
Stars: Jessica McNamee, Luke Mitchell, Amail Golden, Anthony J. Sharpe
Runtime: 98 mins
Country: Australia

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