Greg McLean’s “Wolf Creek” is one of my favorite horror films of the new millennium, and I’ve really been chomping at the bit (no pun intended) to see his killer croc opus, “Rogue”, since the film’s release in mid 2007. Sadly, Rogue didn’t catch on the way Wolf Creek did and didn’t get nearly as wide a release. That’s quite a shame because, after finally getting a chance to see the film, I’ve got to say that this is one of the most exciting and potentially crowd-pleasing “monster” movies to come around in a while.
Travel journalist, Pete McKell (Michael Vartan) embarks on an up-river outback excursion headed by the affable guide, Kate (Radha Mitchell). Along for the ride is an assortment of other tourists, including the grieving widower, Russell (John Jarrett), and the smarmy Simon (Stephen Curry). Just as the Kate is about to turn back for civilization, a rescue flare draws her attention, and she takes her charges into sacred Aboriginal waters to investigate.
Upon arrival they discover a capsized boat, and it’s not long before they find out what was responsible for its sinking as their boat is rammed by a monstrous rogue crocodile. Taking on water, Kate is forced to run their ship aground on a small island, but, being a tidal river, the water is rapidly rising, and Pete, Kate, and the others have to work together to find a way to dry land.
Filled with the sort of white-knuckle suspense and genuine jolts that make good monster movies such a fun ride, Rogue ups the ante by featuring some of the most gorgeous footage of the Australian outback I’ve ever seen. McLean and his crew were granted the rights to film in sacred lands that few non-native eyes had ever seen before, and the late cinematographer, Will Gibson, captures the stunning beauty of this landscape in a way that calls to mind the films of David Lean.
The entire first act of Rogue could easily be mistaken for a nature film or an Australian Travel Board promotion, but, once the action takes us into the lair of the crocodile, Rogue gets back to the business of horror, and, once you see the titular beast, the beautiful surroundings will be the last thing on your mind.
The croc effects are very well done, combining practical models with fairly convincing CGI, and McLean is careful not to imbue the creature with any sort of “human” traits or super abilities. Even the creature’s size (7 meters) isn’t too outlandish, and the majority of the croc’s behavior jibes with the real deal (save for a bit of dramatic embellishment involving the croc’s “lair”), making Rogue all the more effective and quasi-believable.
Dimension Extreme’s DVD offers up a fair amount of extra goodies, including a lengthy making-of documentary, a group of short featurettes, commentary track, the story of “The Real Rogue”, and more.
Fans of films like “Crocodile” and “Lake Placid” will surely love this more “serious” take on the giant killer reptile genre, while fans of gorgeous cinematography should give this one a look just to take in the beauty of Will Gibson’s final piece of work.