“I just let him think that he’s in charge,” Jennifer jokes about her boyfriend Eric, struggling to pack for an expedition to an unexplored cave system in the tropical rainforests of Northern Australia; with them are Viktor and Yolanda, and on the way they pick up their guide Cash who recently discovered the entrance while helping look for missing bushwalkers.
As they descend into the darkness of “Cash’s Cave” the party are unable to see the storm blowing in above, thick clouds which unleash their rain into the rivers which drain into the cave system, flooding their escape route and trapping them in a vault.
With the waters of the underground lake rising, they find the remains of one of the missing hikers, realising that the cave system harbours an aggressive and territorial crocodile whose only instincts are to eat and protect its lair from intruders, five of whom wear lighted helmets, making them easy to spot in the dark.
Directed by Andrew Traucki from a script by Ian John Ridley and Sarah Smith, Black Water: Abyss is the belated sequel to Black Water, the imaginative title indicative of the creative effort expended as the action is transferred from the mangrove swamps to the subterranean depths where a particularly large specimen of Crocodylus porosus plays a waiting game half way between Jaws and The Descent without the excitement of either.
Experienced and capable though out of his depth, Eric (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Luke Mitchell) remains calm, volunteering to swim back with our without backup, and thankfully the rest of the cohort handle the situation better than the screaming teenagers who normally populate such films, but when the inevitable internal crisis does manifest between Jen and Yolanda (Jessica McNamee and Amali Golden) it is predictably contrived.
The initial scenes hinting that Black Water: Abyss might be less about the people than the magnificent power and deadly indifference of nature, once confined to the caves the tension becomes so diluted by the rising waters that it is homeopathic, the darkness filled with repetitive scenes of shadows and reflections punctuated by cries of “get out of the water, it’s coming,” the abyss staring back with unblinking eyes which would shed tears if they could.
Black Water: Abyss is available on DVD from Monday 2nd November