Of all of the beasts and creatures to feature in the durable sub-genre of the revolt of nature horror film the crocodile by far is the most common. This is because the crocodile is not really revolting against mankind, but instead continuing its centuries old struggle against its human oppressor. Therefore these types of films immediately have a resonance and realism that killer insects, spiders, and sundry household pets lack. Despite having this primal advantage over other creatures in this cycle, the killer crocodile has still consistently failed as a cinematic proposition. Lacklustre and shallow efforts such has Lake Placid (1999), Crocodile (2000), and Blood Surf (2000) showed the limitations of digital effects, a technology that should have helped to realise the potential of this form. The more notable precursor for Greg Mclean’s entry Rogue is the little seen Black Water (2007), which was inspired by true events. A film that is less concerned with close ups of gory death in the marauding mouth of a croc and instead more interested in character. Unfortunately Rogue isn’t interested in either character or gory death.
Mclean burst onto the international scene with the gruelling sadism of Wolf Creek (2005). A film that took advantage of the torturous territory opened up by Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005), in order to offer a terrifying glimpse into a landscape that can swallow people up and leave no trace of their whereabouts. Mclean partly returns to this in Rogue, but this time it is the rivers, waterways and tributaries of Australia’s Northern Territory that prove difficult to escape. Mclean is concerned with the investigation of the pretence of civilisation - the thinness of community and of society, a reminder of the slender veneer that separates us from the world of sadistic torturers and killer crocodiles. In this sense Mclean is tapping into fears that emerge from the cosseted age of modern technology and suburbia - and if he continues to develop and refine this theme Mclean will become a major figure within the horror genre.
© Shaun Anderson 2010