Fact – alligators and crocodiles are scary. Let’s face it, they’re basically modern dinosaurs. And horror movies have exploited their inherent creepiness to great effect. From Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive to 80s cult classic Alligator to horror-comedy Lake Placid, crocs and gators make for good horror antagonists. Now the latest straight-to-VOD thriller The Flood mixes bits of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 with recent hit Crawl. Some people might even say that the prison-break thriller rips these movies off. Conversely, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. To date, however, critics haven’t been particularly impressed with the results.
Amidst a developing hurricane in Louisiana, a correctional bus transporting several dangerous inmates takes a detour to a rundown jail in a small town. Unbeknownst to the guards and local sheriff, a small group of guns-for-hire are planning a daring prison break for one of the inmates. But as flood waters rise, the storm itself becomes the least of the problems facing both inmates and guards. Along with the rising water levels, a group of displaced alligators have made their way to the jail’s doors. And they’re hungry.
The Flood Fails to Deliver Convincing Alligators onto the Screen
First things first – let’s address the elephant in the room. The Flood clearly cribs off of Alexandre Aja’s Crawl. Both movies base their stories around a hurricane and rising waters that bring alligators into city dwellings to feed off of unsuspecting characters. But director Brandon Slagle and writers Chad Law and Josh Ridgway also borrow heavily from Assault on Precinct 13. Like Carpenter’s DIY thriller, The Flood brings together a group of disparate survivors and forces them to band together against a greater threat. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with riffing on established hits. Plenty of great movies have opted to recycle what’s worked rather than reinvent the wheel.
Right from the opening scene, the CGI effects deliver alligators that would look perfectly at home in a SyFy Channel movie.
For The Flood to really work, however, it needed to get one thing right – convincing alligators. In this regard, Slagle doesn’t even come close to pulling it off. Right from the opening scene, the CGI effects deliver alligators that would look perfectly at home in a SyFy Channel movie. A skilled filmmaker – like what Steven Spielberg did in Jaws – could find workarounds for limited effects. Yet that’s a tall ask of just about any filmmaker. And Slagle just can’t deliver anything remotely resembling realistic alligator attacks. Maybe if The Flood adopted a more tongue-in-cheek tone similar to the Sharknado series, it could work. But Slagle et al. takes things very seriously.
The Flood Fares Marginally Betters With Its Action-Oriented Scenes
No matter how hard The Flood tries it’s never a suspenseful, shocking, or remotely scary movie. Unfortunately, a movie promising killer gators needs to deliver on the alligators. While The Flood can’t deliver on the gators, Slagle fares slightly better on his Assault on Precinct 13 rehash. Some of the action scenes show bits of innovation and flair. What kills these moments is Slagle’s tendency to let the story settle into long lulls. Pacing turns ups as a major problem. Simply put, Law and Ridgway’s screenplay offers few surprises and, as a result, The Flood is a movie that can’t afford to slow down for long. Even neophyte audiences won’t have much trouble figuring out who dies and in what order.
While The Flood can’t deliver on the gators, Slagle fares slightly better on his Assault on Precinct 13 rehash.
Maybe The Flood is a bit of a mess, but the cast of familiar character actors is more than up to the task. It’s always nice to see Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers, The Pact) turn up in genre movies. Not surprisingly, Van Dien turns in a good stoic performance, but The Flood underutilizes him for much of its runtime. Aussie actress Nicky Whelan (Halloween II, Tragedy Girls) gets the most with which to work and comes out the least unscathed. None of the cast can be faulted for this thriller’s limitations. They do the best they can with what it’s in the screenplay and no performance here stands out as wooden or flat.
The Flood Can’t Deliver on The Premise It Promises
In spite of not one, but two, interesting premises wrapped into one movie, The Flood can’t pull either one. With shoddy CGI gators that look like something out of a SyFy Channel movie, it’s hard to ever invest in the ‘killer animals’ narrative. Any time you’re settled into a feeling of suspense, the effects immediately take you out of it. Yes, Slagle handles the action-oriented elements better. In fact, there’s occasional scenes that look innovative. But ham-fisted dialogue and sluggish pacing put a glass ceiling on just how much enjoyment you’ll get out of this element.