This creature feature has found the perfect balance between gore and enough of a plot line to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. This monster movie did not disappoint.
As a Category Five hurricane starts violently approaching Florida, a college student and competitive swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario) ignores evacuation orders, risking her life to track down her estranged father, Dave (Barry Pepper). Racing full speed into the hurricane, towards her family home, through lashing rain and wailing winds the movie quickly give you a sense of emergency. Haley eventually finds her Dad, gravely injured and unconscious in a rapidly flooding crawlspace under the house. As time runs out to escape the ever growing strength of the storm they discover that the water levels are the least of their worries. Gigantic, blood thirsty killer alligator have made this space their home. Director Alexandre Aja balances the horrors of a natural disaster storm with the natural world, trapping the family inside trying to escape the limp ripping fate from within their home.
Before watching this film, I heard it described as ‘What Jaws did to shark films for alligators’. I feel this is somewhat true. Even though you can’t compare both films, after all Jaws has gained the ‘famously classic’ status over time, this film gave the waters a new villain. Aja bleeds all the fear and intensity from the 20-foot fanged beasts keeping them as realistic as possible with their scaly, fanged and ferociously fast behaviours.
The pace of the film is increasingly thrilling with strong tension-building scenes as the survival of Haley and Dave are at risk. Aja proves his infinite creativity skills with filming techniques showing the clever and weirdly satisfying ways characters very nearly gets chomped – one consistent being swimming directly at the camera, undoubtedly giving the sense of anxiousness and fear of the unknown to the audience.
The relationship between father and daughter is tested throughout the film giving more than a one dimensional feel of just escaping the alligators. Haley blaming herself for family fallouts as her father spent a lot of his time training her to become the ultimate swimmer when she was younger. Dave’s persistence and Haley’s perseverance paid off giving her the willpower to move up through the house avoiding the countless waves of danger. I found myself applauding her smart tactical ways of avoiding death – shower cubical scene comes to mind.
The film does show some gruesome shocking deaths which will get the gore fans excited about the limb snapping and the waters turning red. Will this be the start of a new era of alligator films? Only time will tell.