Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on Fire!
Jaws was a far more seminal movie than anyone thought at the time. There were, of course, immediate rip off films like Grizzly and Orca. But Jaws cast a long shadow and it set the basic pattern for man against nature horror films. Such a film is Rogue, a 2007 Australian outback film that features a tour group locked in battle against a giant crocodile that is hunting them for entering its territory.
At first blush, this sounds terrible, I admit. It’s not even the only Australian crocodile movie released in 2007; it came out just after Black Water. And it is exactly what it sounds like it is—a group of outback tourists including an American travel writer named Peter (Michael Vartan) take a tour led by guide Kate (Radha Mitchell) through an outback swamp. The tour goes along well until they turn back for home. One of the tourists believes that he sees a flare in the distance. The flare is repeated, and Kate makes the decision (essentially with the approval of most of the group) to investigate.
In this respect, Rogue is a lot more like a classic science fiction movie. Many a movie, from Alien to Event Horizon to Sunrise follows this basic storyline. A group of people see or hear a distress call and respond to it at their peril. So, what happens here is not going to be much of a surprise. They find a capsized boat and as they turn to go back, something (not a surprise what, honestly) rams them and damages the boat. The group ends up on a small outcropping of land that will be underwater when the tide comes in, and the croc, big and nasty, is still out there guarding its territory.
That’s honestly it. There isn’t so much a plot here as a series of events that happen as these people desperately try to figure out how to get back to something like civilization. And really, that’s enough. Rogue is smart enough to give us people on the boat who are smart enough to come up with plans that might work against the croc. It’s also smart enough to give us people who are panicky and stupid and who screw up a lot of those plans.
The cast is good. A lot of the players here aren’t famous, but there are a few. John Jarrett plays one of the tourists, as does a young Mia Wasikowska. We also get Sam Worthington as a local with some past relationship with Kate, and who tries to help the group, ending up stranded with them.
It's surprising how effective Rogue really is for having so little in the plot. We get some little moments of characterization of the tourists just to give us a hint that they are more than one-dimensional croc fodder. It’s also smart enough to show just enough of the croc (actually almost nothing) for a large part of the running time. At one point, someone simple…disappears without a sound, which truly adds to the sense of danger and unease.
The biggest problem with Rogue is that once you know what this is, and once the croc attacks start, the only differences between this and something like Jaws is the details. You know the broad strokes of the story here because the formula is too good to mess with. Rogue sticks to the formula as closely as it can, and while it is derivative in that sense, it genuinely doesn’t feel that way in the moment.
I’m honestly surprised. I went into this without expecting a great deal from it, but it’s far better than I had any right to expect. The effects are good, too. The croc looks fairly real, or at least did on the smaller screen I was watching it on. Even the music is good; according to the IMDb trivia, the violins in the soundtrack were played with knitting needles to make them more intense. It works.
Look, no one is going to pretend that Rogue is going to stand on the same pedestal as Jaws, but it’s better than most man vs. nature/killer wild animal films that you’re going to come across. That said, don’t get too excited. It is, after all, just a giant crocodile movie.
Why to watch Rogue: It’s better than any giant rogue attacking crocodile movie has any right to be.
Why not to watch: In a lot of ways, it’s just Aussie Jaws.