Rogue (2008)
Rogue (2008)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 39 min.

Release Date: April 25th, 2008 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Greg McLean Actors: Radha Mitchell, Michael Vartan, Sam Worthington, Caroline Brazier, Stephen Curry, Celia Ireland, Mia Wasikowska, Barry Otto

 


 

“R

ogue” starts with lush, vivid, colorful, National Geographic-type footage that observes the wildlife and natural beauty of the Australian setting. Throughout the film, scenic coverage, including plenty of aerial views, continues to pop up; there’s an evident preoccupation with the visual beauties of the locale. Constant cutaways reveal insects, spiders, lizards, birds, and further vegetation. As for the human moments, the cinematographer loves extreme close-ups and the alternation of bright sunlight and pitch blackness to surround the characters. It creates a pseudo-documentary feel (think “Open Water”) to complement the outrageous nature of the plot.

Kate (Radha Mitchell) runs Ryan’s Wildlife River Cruise in the Northern Territory in Australia, showing a wide array of tourists the scenic segments of the river in Kingston Gorge. Pete McKell (Michael Vartan) is an American travelogue writer, who purchases a ticket to kill some time after being stranded in the outback due to lost luggage. Also on board are Kate’s dog Kevin, a photography nut, a family with their teenaged daughter Sherry (Mia Wasikowska), an overweight smoker, a middle-aged disgruntled couple, and a mustached gentleman who wishes to scatter his wife’s ashes in the river. During the tour, the ship runs into the local bullies, Neil Kelly (Sam Worthington) and his buddy Collin (Damien Richardson) – a twosome destined to turn back up at an inconvenient time.

Just as Kate is finishing up and planning to head home, the passengers spot a signal flare a few miles ahead. When she decides to investigate, the boat is attacked by a giant saltwater crocodile, leaving the entire group shipwrecked on a small tidal island, which, in a few short hours, will be completely submerged. After the killer croc claims its first victim, Neil reappears, only to become similarly marooned on the very same piece of rock. As darkness sets and the water level rises, the survivors plot to tie a rope between two trees so they can climb across instead of braving the murky green waters.

To complicate matters, all the supporting characters exhibit believable levels of panic, mental breakdowns, booze-fueled paranoia, and mob mentality. Teamwork seems to be the last resort. People also tend to linger dangerously close to the edges of the water, tempting the nervous viewer and the scaly hunter alike. As the group dwindles and desperation reaches a high, the darker notions of survival of the fittest, potential bait, and pecking order of human importance are explored. Eventually, they’ll even get separated. There are very few moments of calm and no comic relief.

“They won’t attack anything bigger than they are,” Kate comforts the tourists. But this particular reptile feels especially threatened by the human presence and is more aggressive and territorial than expected. It’s also quite a bit larger. Cleverly, writer/director/producer Greg McLean doesn’t show the monster until absolutely necessary – and even then it’s obscured from plain view. As it so happens, the animatronics and computer graphics tend to look better that way. He also uses tense music, sparse lights in terrifying blackness, creepy environments, and bloody violence. It’s unexpectedly effective and thoroughly entertaining, as “Rogue” takes itself very seriously (except for the end credits, which plays the contradictory, sarcastic, and cynical song “Never Smile at a Crocodile”) – an uncommon approach for modern horror thrillers.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10