So I watched this movie, completely not invested, as water, the creatures that live in the water and natural disasters do not usually interest me as a viewer of movies. The film stood for me as a warning sign of going to Florida and the things that possibly await you (on a grander scale) depending on when you go. It makes me want to just stay in the Midwest where I belong. Florida and the people and things that reside there are definitely a different breed. The movie immediately establishes that this is something that these people are used to: alligators, hurricanes and bad disasters.
With the setting of the film being in a category 5 hurricane and the background of the main characters, they set up in the first few moments of the film, it gives leeway for tons of the more outrageous things that happen throughout the movie. The main character Haley is set out to find her father, who they cannot reach, during the hurricane by her sister over the phone. The father and Haley are the only two main characters of the story so they really want you to invest into their characters, especially the latter of the pair. The film took advantage of the jump scares that natural disasters can stir up and people’s rational and irrational fears of the uncontrollable and animals. However, some of the score in the film was random and broke the atmosphere more than it helped to create it. When Haley finally finds her father at his second home, he is stuck in the basement with injuries from the gators that have found a way in the house from the ferocity of the storm washing the alligators into the city. When I first watched the movie, I thought that her reaction to seeing an alligator in their basement wasn’t convincing but then upon thinking about it, it made sense because of their setting. I thought that this might be an everyday thing for her to see and that made me feel better about her reaction being more adrenaline based than fear based.
Haley and her father clearly have some sort of animosity in their relationship but the movie never dives deep enough to make me care about what they are actually feuding about. A comment she made about him not knowing anything about her during one of their interactions showcased this heavily to me. The immediate question that arose to me was if you feel that way about him, then why are you in this crawl space dungeon of a basement risking your life and limbs for him? She and her father go through many trials and tribulations with these gators that I have to suspend my disbelief for, as there are a few times where Haley has plot armor built around her for no reason. By all means, she should have been one of the people eaten by the gators as often as they attacked and latched on to her limbs in the film. Everyone else did. The film did a stupendous job of showing the characteristics and true to nature traits of alligators while they’re in the wild and nesting, so I didn’t see why the plot armor was so thick that it made it to where she and her father could survive anything.
Another thing that takes me out of any movie and my belief in it is when characters have unrecognized traits such as being able to McGuyver anything out of nothing for no reason at all or when they’re randomly made out to be ultimate survivalists or know hows all of a sudden. Haley’s father was her swim coach and made out to be nothing more than that, so some of the things that he survives in this movie is a bit outrageous really. While other side characters were used just to show how vicious the gators were and how they attacked, the main character were showered with ways to not have their extremities ripped off. Because there was no real connection with the main characters, it really showed how expendable everyone else was in the film. Once a new character came onto the screen, I was very happy to see them, and then they would just die within a matter of minutes and you’re back with these characters that I really didn’t care that much about because neither were really appealing as characters to me.
Haley’s death dodging was amazing by the end of the film as she made it through scary situations with the alligators and having to deal with another natural scare in the movie that helped the atmosphere: the fear of drowning. By the end of the film, Haley’s father sacrificed himself almost twice only to be saved at the end of the day by her or by the plot, however I felt that since their relationship was “rocky” (even though we never got to see that in the film besides exposition) it would’ve made the ending have much more impact if he had died at either his sacrifice with the alligator or when he almost drowned. The gators have vendettas in the film apparently and are on steroids, so it would have made for a better film moment and a tug on a heart string rather than allowing him to live at the end, even though her journey throughout the film would’ve been for nothing.
The last act of the film was just the main two characters endlessly and consistently put in ridiculously perilous situations in which they both survive all of them. The father does get his arm ripped off, but I don’t feel like that was enough for the roller coaster that the film takes you on at the end of the movie. The film did do a great job of highlighting certain things that people may not know to be true like natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding, animals like gators and facts about them, and Florida in the summer in general, however the movie did pull a lot of stuff that was a bit unasked for to me. Too many near death experiences don’t make for a better climax if there’s no downtime or payoff in the movie or at the end. Just feels like a really long ride that you wanted to get off of anyway. The movie was, however, short and to the point. It told its story and got out of there really. The ending of the movie, just ends, but it’s not a good or a bad thing really for the movie itself as a whole. If you like action/nature/monster science fiction movies then this definitely might be for you! They do many things right in this film to justify the short runtime of a little over 80 minutes that it has.