Way back in 2006, there was talk of two killer croc movies coming down the pipe. The first was Michael Katleman’s Primeval and the second was Greg McLean’s Rogue. Then, things got a little murky. Rogue disappeared completely off the map and Buena Vista curiously decided to market Primeval as a serial killer film, which just confused audiences. I remember the television spots were even more ambiguous than the trailer linked above. Finally, Primeval came out in January 2007 to very little fanfare, but still no Rogue. This was irksome to me because it was the one of the pair that interested me the most. I liked McLean’s previous film Wolf Creek and knew that it would at least LOOK good.
I didn’t realize until later that the Weinsteins were involved, which is never good for smaller horror pictures in terms of release dates. This also meant that showings north of the border were even more unlikely. And you know how I feel about THAT.
Rogue played some festivals in 2007 and got a paltry amount of screens when it eventually came out this past January. It was a huge money loser and ended up being the total reverse of the success McLean had with Wolf Creek (which was a huge hit in Australia and did well abroad). But is Rogue any good? Did it deserve the death roll treatment? Well, having finally seen it a last weekend, I’ll give you my two cents.
Rogue is a well-made movie that I enjoyed watching. The photography of the Australian landscape and wildlife is excellent. In fact, the first act is almost like you’re watching a documentary on the Discovery channel. The cast is well rounded, including Radha Mitchell and Sam Worthington. It was also great to see the director bring back John Jarratt (the killer in Wolf Creek) as a character who was the complete opposite of the sadistic bastard from that film.
McLean makes an advisable decision to hold back showing the antagonist for as long as he possibly can. I remembered thinking to myself what a good choice this was because I knew when it finally showed up it was going to be computer generated and probably look like shit. So later, there it was full frame and I actually said - as it swam away with an unfortunate sod in its maw - ‘well that wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.’ Considering the low budget, and the reluctance of the powers-that-be to release it wide, I was expecting something in the vein of Boa vs. Python. Rogue’s croc is better than that. Sure, it's still CG, but it was good enough that I could suspend my disbelief and that’s really all you can ask for. Seeing afterwards, that WETA worked on the film explained why that was the case. The sound is also really complimentary. It adds a lot of weight to the action, ESPECIALLY in the climax where visual effects are heavily implemented.
In the end, I got all I wanted from Greg McLean’s follow up to Wolf Creek. It was simple, well executed and looked great. As far as creature features go, Rogue earns its place in the canon.
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