The Flood movie review (2023)
The climactic scene in “Jaws,” where Robert Shaw meets a gruesome end, remains one of the most thrilling moments in cinematic history. Amid Steven Spielberg’s expert direction and clever Hitchcockian scares, the shocking and brazen portrayal of a man’s brutal demise by the shark’s relentless jaws stands out with a raw and exploitative intensity. “Jaws,” in many ways, could be hailed as the ultimate B-movie. Drawing inspiration from this iconic scene, “The Flood” emerges as an alligator-driven thriller intertwined with a violent prison escape plot. Set against the backdrop of a Louisiana police station during a hurricane, the film fearlessly serves up its share of jaw-dropping human-torso-versus-jaws sequences, essentially positioning itself as a slasher movie with a reptilian twist.
The alligator thriller genre has always been a budget-conscious imitation of “Jaws” – quite literally, as the alligators often find their way from some forgotten basement. The genre kicked off with a modest but ironic nod in “Alligator” (1980), which gained attention partly due to its screenplay by John Sayles, who had also released the influential independent drama “Return of the Secaucus 7” the same year.
This connection with Sayles added a touch of self-aware campiness to the monster-thriller concept. The genre’s origins trace back to the 1976 film “Eaten Alive,” a notably subpar movie by Tobe Hooper following his iconic “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” The genre now boasts a vast catalog of titles, including “Lake Placid” (1999), “Dark Age” (1987), “Black Water” (2007), and more recently, the somewhat sluggish and overly praised “Crawl” (2019), which strands you in a house with two alligators, a father, and a daughter.
In this landscape, “The Flood” emerges as a blend of schlock and vigor. The movie wastes no time in establishing its tone, as a pair of misfits seek refuge from the storm in an abandoned house, only for a hungry alligator to appear at the door within minutes – a stark departure from slow-building suspense.
The gator promptly dispatches both strangers, effectively signaling the film’s intention to deliver visceral body-munching scenes akin to cinematic indulgence. The alligators, mostly realized through digital effects, appear convincingly authentic, and their grisly consumption of heads and torsos comes alive with a vivid spray of digital blood spatter.
The core of the story unfolds within the Lutree Sheriff’s Department, a sturdy concrete structure that becomes infested by four colossal 500-pound alligators that infiltrate through the roof ducts. This unfortunate timing coincides with the presence of a group of tough and hardened criminals, in transit between prisons, who subsequently seize the opportunity to orchestrate a daring breakout. This scenario, reminiscent of John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13,” provides the movie with a sturdy foundation. As a viewer, you’re propelled forward by the dual menace of alligators and ruthless humans.
Director Brandon Slagle (“House of Manson”) adopts a no-nonsense approach to staging, skillfully navigating the film’s potboiler plot, and the cast delivers commendable performances. Nicky Whelan, portraying the sheriff, exudes a gritty charm reminiscent of a blue-collar Angelina Jolie. The imposing actors portraying the prisoners, such as Mike Ferguson and Randall J. Bacon, embody their roles as seasoned criminals convincingly. Casper Van Dien, known from “Starship Troopers,” portrays a less sinister inmate (a cop killer with his own reasons), and his flirtatious dynamic with the sheriff provides a touch of old-fashioned sentimentality that attempts to bind the movie together. Yet, the true glue holding the film together lies in the promise of alligators relentlessly stalking, slithering, and chomping – a cycle that keeps the tension pulsating.
In essence, “The Flood” revitalizes the alligator thriller genre with a mix of schlock and spirited storytelling. While it pays homage to its cinematic predecessors, it confidently establishes its own identity by embracing its campy undertones and plunging audiences into a world where primal predators collide, resulting in an adrenaline-fueled spectacle.
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