dir: Greg Mclean
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It wasn’t guaranteed that Mclean’s follow-up to Wolf Creek would be a disappointment, but it was inevitable that people would pick it as such. Mclean is more of a victim of unfortunate timing that anything else, which rendered his monster movie little less than a blip on the radar.

Of course it doesn’t help that the film isn’t that good.

The two strikes that screwed up any chance of Rogue succeeding box-office-wise were that it was going to initially come out around the same time as another flick about a giant crocodile (Primeval), and that another flick with the same title was about to come out (Rogue, which became Rogue Assassin in some countries, and War in the States).

But the real problem is money. Money money money. You can’t always see it, but sometimes where the money for a flick comes from dictates just so much of the content of the flick that you really feel a bit ashamed of yourself.

Money, specifically from Dimension Films, being the genre-trashy arm of the Weinstein Brothers film empire, dictated a strange, strange set-up for what is essentially supposed to be an Aussie horror flick set in the hallowed reaches of the Northern Territory.

But it can’t just be a horror flick where a giant crocodile chomps on people until someone kills it or people escape with their lives and dignity barely intact. Oh no.

It has to have an actual American as the main heroic type (Michael Vartan), a couple of Australians pretending to be Americans, three Australians pretending to be Brits, and a structure that lends itself to doing little more than deflating its own premise over time.

It starts off well enough. American guy gets off bus in the middle of nowhere. Singles himself out as an outsider as if there are parts of Australia that haven’t heard of Americans and where the locals find them as exotic and snobbish as the members of some Martian race.

Radha Mitchell’s character Kate runs a river tour boat which takes tourists into the nearby wilds where they can gasp and faint at the sight of salt water crocs eating bits of chicken attached to a string. Crikey! Kate speaks with an accent so broad that moccasin-clad Craigieburn bogans would watch the flick and say “Oh I say, I find that accent to be the height of inauthenticity.” Or some such.

Of course these majestic reptiles aren’t scary enough on their own (despite, naturally, growing to substantial sizes, in some cases over 20 feet in length), so the flick has to conjecture a CGI croc the size of a bus in order to really scare the shit out of audiences.

Of course it would help if any part of this flick was remotely scary: Jaws with crocodile it ain’t.

It aint’ it aint! No, instead of being an implacable force of nature, this croc conveniently and wisely singles out people based on ethnicity and accent, surreptitiously killing most of the cast before any of us have gleaned what has happened or what the big bastard looks like.

It’s also, I guess, cheaper to not have to expend all that money on CGI early on. Especially when you can give it to Michael Vartan and Radha Mitchell instead.

When they start out on the river, and the tension builds out of not knowing what’s going to happen or how, the movie is actually working. It works. The cinematography is more than impressive, it is awe-inspiring. But when the boat is attacked and the humans (and a dog) are stranded on a tidal river island, the movie completely loses its way. It ends up being little more than a device to arbitrarily stretch out the running time, and it sucks every hint of tension out of the flick, despite having been designed by screenwriters as a ticking time bomb.
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Completely and utterly fails on that score. I could no longer care what happened, which was a shame. The croc magically, despite its massive bulk, is able to be anywhere at any time, and picks people off with a cruel sense of irony. It also, as one avenue of hoped-for escape is cut off literally and figuratively by its presence on the other side of the river bank, shows how silly the whole set up is.

The ending devolves into the American hero finding a way to kill the crocodile and save the girl in a manner that doesn’t seem too ludicrous or implausible. Failure is as failure does.

After Mclean’s breakout success with Wolf Creek, I’m sure he thought he could write his own ticket. The premise for Rogue that I heard about was completely and utterly different from what happened here; this generic, cliché-ridden predictable gloop could not have been the end product of what Mclean wanted.

No way. This flick is empty of barely anything worth remembering even before the bum has been raised from the seat that ensconced it, or the DVD is ejected from the player. No tension, no fear, no characters to even vaguely like or hate, nothing but made-for tv thrills for an audience so undemanding that they probably find the average episode of CSI an emotional and visceral rollercoaster ride.

What’s worse is that even for a monster flick, Rogue doesn’t even really deliver on its meagre premise, and ends up being a waste of the time of all involved. The best efforts of the actors and cinematography are completely undercut by a script so banal that it would make Little Banal Baby Jesus cry.

Still, there should be a sequel. The sequel should have one of the crocodile’s babies plying the drains of a major Australian city, killing discriminately along ethnic lines until some helpful American actor can come along and deliver us from such evil. Preferably Burt Reynolds.

4 amens to that out of 10

“Sorry about that, folks. As you can see, human pollution is one of the greatest threats to the environment out here.” - Rogue