Crocodile (2000) **
D: Tobe Hooper
C: Mark McLachlan, Caitlin Martin, Chris Solari, D.W. Reiser, Julie Mintz, Adam Gierasch
Plot Synopsis: A group of vacationing college aged students, find their fun disrupted by a giant man eating crocodile.
REVIEW: In Crocodile, we watch as a giant croc eats various college students. The premise is one of those premises that hearkens back to the grindhouse films of yesteryear. So it only makes sense that the producers hired Tobe Hooper to direct. After all, Tobe Hooper directed the ultimate grindhouse film - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a film that was not only a part of the grindhouse era, but also managed to transcend it.
Part of what made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre successful was that the film felt real, as though you was merely eavesdropping on horrific events as they occurred. With Crocodile, the title creature is a combination of robotics and CGI. In either form, the creature isn't particularly convincing. And then there's the characters, they all feel like stock characters from an MTV Spring Break special. They drink. They curse. They swear. They engage in tom foolery. And they meddle where they shouldn't, which results in a giant, man hungry crocodile chasing after the film's main characters.
Tobe Hooper directs the film in a very straight forward manner, in that the overall tone, is cohesive throughout. The editing never allows for the pacing to lag. There's a few effective moments that are sure to make people jump. They're the types of scares that reminded me why it's fun to be scared at times.
Yet, the film struggles to find a sense of identity. Logically, there's only two ways that this type of material is going to work, as either a film with a message or as a parody of grindhouse creature features. Since the film goes in a more serious direction, that means that is going to have to work as a horror film with a message. The thing is, that the message at hand is never thoroughly explored.
Yes, the film tells us that the reason that the giant crocodile has gone on a murderous rampage is, because the main characters have stolen its eggs. The croc responds with violence in order to protect its family to be. The theme being, that when you mess with nature, you're playing with fire. You're messing with a delicate balance and when you do so, it can throw everything out of whack. The main characters have upset the balance of nature and that you shouldn't do that, but that's about as far as the film goes in its thought process to the underlying theme at hand.
In order to create a more balanced view into this message, you have to explore it from both viewpoints. Why do people feel that they have the right to mess with nature, to take what they want? Why do these animals have to suffer at the hands of our own greed? etc. etc.
Most of the film's running time is spent watching as the characters run around, trying to out maneuver the title croc, while some of them end up becoming lunch meat along the way. It's all rather watchable, but it isn't anything we haven't seen before and it certainly isn't going to leave any kind of lasting impression. There's nothing to grab ahold of story wise, there's nothing to connect to and as a result, the film feels rather impersonal. [R] 93 mins.