Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Radha Mitchell, Heather Mitchell, Barry Otto, Michael Vartan, Stephen Curry
Directed by Greg McLean
Distributed by Dimension Extreme
We've been talking about Greg McLean's follow up to Wolf Creek, Rogue, for the better part of a year now. It's nearly unfathomable how this never made it to theatres. Well, at least it's home now on DVD, and hopefully there's an audience out there who will be hungry for it. After the disappointing Primeval (which I dug if only for its silly factor) and the ever-so-bleak Black Water, the world is ready for a really good and really fun killer croc movie, and this near 25-foot long bad boy delivers exactly what it should!
Sometimes shit happens. Even on vacation. After seeing a flare go off, a tour guide (Mitchell) and her group (headed up by Michael Vartan) go to investigate the source of the distress signal. Where were they touring, you ask? Australia's Northern Territory -- home of deadly crocs. And poisonous snakes. And eels. And spiders. And generally everything else that I absolutely do not want near me under any circumstances. Whatever happened to theme parks and resorts? Anyway, upon getting to the area where the flare came from, our heroes' tiny ship gets tossed and then beached. The source of this mayhem? One really pissed off crocodile who, with the rising tide, gets closer and closer to having his belly full for the coming weeks. Can our crew hold out until help arrives? Worse still, who's to say said help won't be met with their same fate?
The set-up is as simple as it is effective, and Rogue is a film that takes the giant man-eater formula and amps up the intensity to a bone-jangling 11 on the terror scale of 1 to 10. Simply put, this movie works on all the right levels. From a truly intimidating looking beast to characters you actually care about to a location that really has to be seen to be appreciated.
There's no question Australia's Northern Territory is the biggest star of the film, and Rogue is riddled with aerial shots that are absolutely breathtaking. Not since Lord of the Rings have I been as awed by a film's setting. We're talking terrain so big and robust that it serves to make our humans' plight seem all the more threatening. These vacationing tourists are clearly out of their element, and as a result, despite the land being vast, things end up feeling mucho claustrophobic. This is all testament to McLean's keen direction and sense of mood. From start to finish Rogue is clearly a winner ... but it's not perfect. There is a bit of bad that creeps up from time to time in terms of pacing, but it's nothing that will keep you from digging on this ferocious beast of a film.
The DVD itself is also packing some bite in terms of supplemental material. Things kick off with an audio commentary by writer/producer/director Greg McLean. Going it solo doesn't slow this man down at all. The track is brisk, interesting, and riddled with information that never gets boring. This was a hell of a shoot, and if you aren't convinced of that from listening to the commentary, the several featurettes that await will more than make it clear what an arduous task was set before the cast and the crew.
The Making-of Rogue a documentary made by McLean himself, is a 46-minute look that's more than just your typical making-of; what we have here is a step-by-step video expedition of what it took to get this creature in the can. Amidst the cast and crew interviews we learn of the actual story of the croc Rogue is based upon -- a huge creature named Sweetheart who caused a great deal of terror in its day. Really good stuff! Also covered within this croc-doc is what lengths the filmmakers had to go to in order to get permission to allow cameras into a part of the Outback that's never been filmed before and how said location influenced the personal and professional performances of all those involved. It's all very fascinating stuff, and it doesn't stop there. In Welcome to the Territory (a gallery of mini-documentaries), we're treated to three featurettes that run between six and seventeen minutes each specifically covering the effects, the music, and the wondrous Northern Territory.
Capping things off are the theatrical trailer (if only ... it would have been amazing to see this in an Imax or something of the sort) and my only real disappoint on this disc -- a featurette called The Real Rogue. You would think from the title that this would be a more complete look at Sweetheart's story, but alas, it's nothing more than a three-minute video podcast that appeared online to promote the movie that's comprised of heavily edited footage from the other featurettes. This left me scratching my head. I mean, why? Just why?
Bottom line -- Rogue is the best damned killer crocodile movie to be made in more than a decade. Oddly enough it's also the one that had the hardest time reaching audiences. It never ceases to amaze me how far worse films get huge releases when quality ones like this do little more than sit on the shelf waiting for the blessing of the great home video gods. Hopefully this movie will find its fanbase on DVD. It's truly deserving.
4 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Rogue in the Dread Central forums!