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Abyss? Abysmal is closer to the mark. This survival horror from Australia – pitting man against killer croc – swims in the shallow end of scares. It creates the merest ripples of fear, despite contriving a nightmarish escape-proof predicament for its victims: four friends on a caving trip who become trapped on the banks of an underground lake as it fills with water, a croc the size of a minibus snapping at their feet.
We meet the friends – two couples in their early 30s – as they pack, director Andrew Traucki conspicuously paying attention to details that will be significant later. While gung-ho Eric (Luke Mitchell) charges up the head torches, his girlfriend Jen (Jessica McNamee) scrolls through his phone, suspicious that he’s been distracted. Their friends Viktor (Benjamin Hoetjes) and Yolanda (Amali Golden) arrive waving Viktor’s asthma inhaler and they set off. Traucki builds some intensity as the four lower themselves into the cave along with a guide. Claustrophobics will probably experience a prickle of terror here that non-sufferers will be denied by this otherwise unscary movie.
When the croc attacks, the gore feels a bit PG. Could it be that crocodiles can’t compete with sharks in the predator stakes? Maybe its grin is too cheesy? Or perhaps Jaws has instilled in us all a baseline fear of sharks? But a couple of immersive scenes might reel you in. In one, Yolanda has to throw the inhaler a few metres across the lake to Viktor on the opposite bank. She hesitates, and in that moment I put myself in her shoes. (Would I fluff the throw? Almost certainly.) The movie becomes less interesting when Jen makes a discovery about Eric that leads to a relationship showdown with the croc looking on with embarrassment. Maybe it, too, is perplexed about how her mascara has stayed put. This is paddling-pool-level entertainment.
• Black Water: Abyss is released in cinemas on 10 July.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Black Water: Abyss review – PG-style croc horror is fit for a paddling pool | Horror films