Rogue: Movie DVD

Sunday, 27 September 2009 09:31

Every once in a while, along comes a horror film that genuinely tries to outstrip its B-Movie pedigree. “Rogue” is one such movie. Michael Vartan (Alias) stars as Pete McKell, an American journalist who gets much more than he bargains for when he visits a small town in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Researching the thriving local tourist industry, Pete joins a river cruise run by lively guide Kate Ryan (Radha Mitchell – “Pitch Black”, “Silent Hill”); after getting pestered by a couple of local tearaways including Neil Kelly (Sam Worthington – “Terminator Salvation”, “Avatar”), the tourists get drawn dramatically off course in response to a distress flare.

Rogue DVDBroad-sided out of the blue by a massive crocodile, they find themselves ship-wrecked on a tiny island and - with the water level rising and no radio or mobile signal to call for help - must to fight for their survival against the fiercely territorial and very deadly reptile.

Writer/Director/Producer Greg Mclean has attempted to transfer his penchant for realism, previously seen in “Wolf Creek”, to the creature-feature sub-genre. For the most part he has succeeded, and in conjunction with some nice performances from his cast, some absolutely stunning scenery and cinematography, and some terrific effects work, has produced a very slick and memorable movie.

As the exceedingly thorough extras on the DVD attest, credibility seeps into every pore of the production. A copious amount of research was carried out by the crew, most notably tracing the story of an enormous real-life croc from the 1970s nick-named 'Sweet Heart'. This 5.4 metre beast made a name for itself by attacking boats that strayed into its territory. The reptile in the movie is a massive 7.2 metres long, which you might think strains the realms of believability, but in fact larger animals have been sighted and are known to still exist today!

The headlining cast commit themselves admirably in bringing home the terror of an encounter with such a ferocious creature, and they are aided by a script that typically avoids the usual dumb genre stereotypes. Vartan is particularly effective, establishing Pete as a vulnerable 'fish out of water' who uses his quick wits to rally and support the group, in concert with the gutsy Kate and resourceful Neil. The rest of the cast provide a compelling backdrop of frightened, often self-serving folk who add an edge of unpredictability to the plot.

The crocodile itself is realised brilliantly. As is often the case, a mixture of CGI and hydraulic animatronics is used. The CG effects really do convey the weight and menace of a crocodile, and in most scenes they are subtly complemented by composited shots of real water movement, wire-assisted stunt men being tossed about as well as CG people, water and backdrops. The animatronics actually frightened the cast in terms of their scale and power, with Vartan gleefully telling us in the extras that the fear on his face was often 100% genuine! He and some of the other cast members get up very close and personal to these thrashing machines.

As with “Alien”, the creature is only slowly revealed, so initially we only catch fleeting glimpses of it with each stealthy kill; later on we see it in all of its glory, lit and animated very naturally to avoid looking fake.

Whilst “Rogue” does not feature as many extreme jump-shocks as its nearest rival, “Lake Placid”, it does feature some genuinely nail-biting tension, and we do care about the key characters enough to hope they make it through to the end, which always helps.

François Tétaz’s evocative score contributes much to the final product. Early scenes where the camera swoops over and through gorges in the Northern Territories feature a lazy, exotic theme that encourages the audience to lie back and take in the awe-inspiringly beautiful sites, just like the cruise passengers; later on the rumbling base note from a cello and screaming violin strings dramatise the lurking, hefty predator and his sudden, energetic attacks. Tétaz used all sorts of innovative techniques to create the soundtrack, including pinging the spines of a cactus, and tapping a partially submerged glass beaker.

It is evident that a huge amount of care and attention has gone into this film (including the creation of the island itself!), crafted by a crew of up to 150 people. Their efforts have paid off, and I can heartily recommend the movie to horror fans who are seeking something a bit more involving than the typical fly-by-night, flimsy fodder they might be accustomed with.

The DVD and Blu-Ray discs come packed with some fantastic extras including a very thorough 45-minute “making of”, a detailed, feature-length commentary track by the director (shame the cast were not also involved), featurettes on the effects, music and geography featured in the film, and lastly a short video podcast about “The Real Rogue”.

All-told, there is a wealth of film-making information in these extras, adding real value to the package. “Rogue” is released by Icon Home Entertainment on 5 October 2009 on DVD and Blu-Ray, priced £15.99 and £19.99 respectively.


Movie Review: Rogue (2007)


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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