‘The Flood’ Review: A Toothless Reptilian Horror Film That Goes Too Big

The Flood

The premise of The Flood is enticing. It’s essentially Con-Air meets Crawl. On that basis, I was hooked. But this film was made on a much smaller budget than either of the aforementioned efforts and those financial constraints show via multiple technical shortcomings. 

The Flood sees Sheriff Jo Newman (Nicky Whelan), along with a deputy, holding down the fort during a monumental storm. The squall finds her station unexpectedly housing a busload of inmates in transit. As if that weren’t enough for one person to handle, the premises are then invaded by a crew attempting to liberate one of the inmates. And did I mention that a gaggle of hungry gators have also found their way in?

Like in life, first impressions matter. Director Brandon Slagle and company have lit the opening scene in The Flood so poorly that I could barely make anything out. Though these matters are often easier said than done, some additional set lighting would have gone a long way. A film’s opening is so important. That’s when the viewer is getting the lay of the land. But here we exist in near-total darkness where we can barely recognize facial features. That’s a risky move and a precarious way to introduce the audience to the proceedings. 

The lighting issues do improve slightly following that sequence. But not significantly until near the third act. Because of that, during the first hour, I had to pivot my screen and adjust my monitor brightness to make out a lot of the action. 

Also troublesome, the narrative has a bit too much going on and feels unfocused. Setting The Flood at the Sheriff’s Department during a storm and then bringing in prisoners and giant gators would have been plenty ambitious. That would have given the narrative some time to flesh out the characters and allow them to endear to the audience. But rather than keep it simple, screenwriters Chad Law and Josh Ridgway just kept expanding the focus and proceeded to introduce more complications. That ultimately creates chaos where simplicity would have provided a sense of focus and possibly even freed up some budgetary funds to be allocated elsewhere. 

The film is also hindered by its dialogue. Much of it comes across as anything but natural. Several exchanges between the cast members feel stilted and inauthentic. The acting is partially to blame for that, but the writing doesn’t help.

Nicky Whelan and Casper Van Dien are more seasoned than the majority of the cast. So, while each of them delivers a serviceable showing in The Flood, several of the smaller, supporting roles lack a certain amount of polish, giving the proceedings an amateur quality at times. 

Acting aside, a creature feature is hard to pull off on a small budget. Particularly when the creatures in your feature are a prominent screen presence. That gives the viewer time to sort of pick apart the quality of the CGI-rendered gators. In some sequences, their teeth look like they are made of liquid metal; in others the gators’ fangs look like volcanic rock. But they never look natural. Additionally, their movements are way more fluid than they would be on an actual gator. They seem to slither, rather than crawl. All of that would have been less noticeable if the creatures were a bit more mysterious and didn’t outstay their welcome like they do.

Speaking of gators, the kill sequences in The Flood are also pretty underwhelming. They are primarily comprised of crimson-tinged shots of the water level in the station. We don’t see much of anything actually transpire. And what does occur onscreen looks cartoonish. 

Criticisms aside, I give the filmmakers props for getting their movie made and for serving up some decent action sequences that kept me entertained. The first hour of The Flood kind of drags along but the third act achieves and maintains a pretty solid level of intensity. Additionally, the flick does have a certain appeal to those that enjoy the type of monster-movie-of-the-week films the SyFy network has made a name for themselves churning out.  

If you’re curious to check The Flood out for yourself, the film will be in theaters, On Demand, and on digital starting July 14, 2023.

  • ‘The Flood'


‘The Flood’ tries to do too much and becomes chaotic where it should be focused.

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