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Black Water
cast: Diana Glenn, Maeve Dermody, Andy Rodoreda, Ben Oxenbould, and Fiona Press

directors: David Nerlich and Andrew Traucki

86 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Universal DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Gary McMahon
The set up is perhaps the definition of simplicity: three people go on a fishing trip in the mangrove swamps of northern Australia, follow a lonely course of water, and fall foul of a rogue crocodile. Their boat is flipped, and the trio of the pregnant Gracie (Diana Glenn), her husband Adam (Andy Rodoreda), and her sister Lee (Maeve Dermody) climb up a tree to what they initially believe is safety but soon turns into another trap. From their elevated position, they must then try to find a way out of the danger they find themselves in as the crocodile stalks them from the waters below.

Sounds cheap and derivative, doesn't it? Well, I can tell you that this film is anything but. Once their canoe is overturned and the Steve Irwin-type guide is despatched by the killer croc, Black Water transforms into a tense and suspenseful psychological drama that pinned me to my seat. The three leads offer up excellent performances - particularly Dermody as the sister who is forced to find within herself reserves of strength and resilience she never suspected she had - as they essay the trauma of the situation. Decisions are made; choices are narrowed down; desperation takes over and strips these characters down to their essentials. Stuck up a tree for most of the duration of the film, the three people first fall apart, and then go on show great courage, understandable stupidity, and naked fear in equal measures.

The ending is intense and not once do proceedings dip to the level of a typical monster-on-the-loose scenario. The script is far too clever to allow anything resembling a cliché to ruin the carefully constructed suspense, and the acting is too good to slip into melodrama. There is a real lack of gloss to the film, yet the direction is pitch-perfect. I believed in the reality of this situation for as long as I was held in its grasp, and wasn't surprised to find out later that it was based on true events. Black Water is that rare thing: a low budget, single-idea indie potboiler that transcends its own limitations to become something quite special. To keep it short and simple, much like the film itself: I loved it.

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