Why do horror remakes like “Prom Night” get shown in thousands of theaters while “Rogue” snuck into a few token movie houses before heading to DVD?
I’m still pondering that question as “Rogue’s” release date (Aug. 5) draws near.
“Rogue,” from Greg McLean of “Wolf Creek” fame, is far better than a good 80 percent of modern horror movies, and that’s a conservative estimate. Yet it barely got a chance to succeed during its blink-and-you-missed-it theatrical run.
And shame on critics for not rallying to the film’s cause. The only quote the DVD package could muster comes from shocktillyoudrop.com. No offense to that site, but usually even mediocre films can point to more than one critical rave.
Granted, the film sure sounded dopey on the surface – who needs another killer crocodile story? But the film’s power is in the execution.
Michael Vartan stars as a Chicago travel writer checking out a guided boat tour of the Australian territories. The trip starts out innocently enough, with a few snapping crocodiles along the way for local color and banter from the fetching tour guide (Radha Mitchell). But a “rogue” crocodile rams the boat, sending its inhabitants into the water. They scramble to the nearest patch of land, but the rising tide will soon leave them exposed to the oversized croc.
McLean’s mastery of the Australian scenery gives “Rogue” a beauty most horror films can’t match, and Vartan is just fine, thank you as the stoic hero. And who wouldn’t fight off a dozen crocodiles to save the beguiling Mitchell?
“Rogue” doesn’t play the material for laughs, and its leisurely pacing gives us time to get to know, and care, about the people in harm’s way.
Some horror junkies won’t applaud the lack of gore, but the market is flooded with grade B thrillers which all but splash us with faux blood. Who needs severed limbs and entrails when you’ve got genuine thrills and a score that sounds imported from a movie with quadruple the budget?
Neil Marshall followed up his terrific horror film “The Descent” with the decidedly mediocre “Doomsday.” But McLean proves with “Rogue” that he knows exactly how to deliver a chilling encore.
UPDATE: Check out my new MovieMaker Magazine feature on the sorry state of horror movies.
(Photo: The nasty star of “Rogue” smiles for its closeup)
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