Rogue (Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Outback)

Posted by Tom Paskins on December 31, 2010 in Blog, Reviews tagged with , , , ,

Rogue, 2007.  Written and directed by Greg McLean.

Reviewed by Tom Paskins

Ever since the release of Lake Placid in 1999 there have been too many films released about killer crocodiles to count. Most of these are low budget, direct to DVD affairs and range from awful to well…even more awful. I once had the misfortune of sitting through Tobe Hooper’s Crocodile (2000) which the Radio Times described as ‘an appalling fate for a once promising talent’.  It’s a statement with which I wholeheartedly agree. So when Rogue (2007) first came to my attention, also a direct to DVD release in the UK, I was determined upon avoiding it like the plague. Then however I realised that it was the second film from Australian director Greg MLlean, the man behind 2005’s raw, violent and truly disturbing outback set horror Wolf Creek. So seeing Rogue was being sold cheaply in Tesco, it was with a certain degree of trepidation that I decided to buy it and give it a go.

The film opens with sweeping panoramic views of Australia’s northern territories and therefore instantly establishes the sublime nature of the landscape in which 95 % of the films action takes place. We are introduced to the character of Pete McKell (Michael Vartan) who is an American journalist sent to the Australian outback on assignment. McLean wastes no time in establishing him as an outsider as he is greeted with hostility by the locals and he therefore comes across as the unlikely hero of the piece. He takes a river cruise with a diverse group of holiday makers, which is piloted by tour guide Kate Ryan (Radha Mitchell).

This is where the winning motif which worked so well in Wolf Creek is on full display once again. None of them are stock horror movie characters, they are all real people with real lives. And as much of the film’s tension derives from the conflicts that develop within the group when they find themselves stranded on an island with the tide rapidly coming in after their boat has been attacked and sunk by the rogue crocodile of the title, as it does from anticipating who the next person to get chomped will be. John Jarrett, who played the evil Mick Taylor in the former film, is back. This time however he takes on the role of a grieving widower, which is a true testament to McLean’s skill as a director to coax a wide variety of performances from his cast as I didn’t even recognise him as the villain from Wolf Creek

As for the crocodile itself, McLean employs a technique similar to that which Spielburg used in Jaws (1978): keeping it out of sight for a large part of the film. When it finally is revealed in what is a startlingly harrowing attack sequence it looks genuinely menacing and well animated. It seems that some real research into the feeding techniques of these animals went into the making of the film and in the finale which takes places inside the beasts’ lair McLean comes close to scaling the same terror heights that he did in his former film.

Ultimately Rogue fails to make any lasting impact, due to the fact that it essentially re-treads ground walked over so many times before. For its 95 minute run time, however, it packs a pretty vicious bite.

Watch the trailer here

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