1 June 2008

ROGUE (Dir. Greg McLean, 2007, Australian/US) - Return of the Exploitation Film

What a stupid name for an exploitation film about a giant man eating crocodile. It would have made much better sense to have gone for a title with a bit more irony (the films 'Jaws' and 'Pirhana' immediately come to mind when I think of man vs. nature movies) and wit than for a title that seems more appropriate for a straight to DVD crime thriller starring James Woods.

Costing up to $30 million and produced by the Weinstein’s, Rogue is Greg McLean’s follow up to his nail biting road movie set in the Australian outback, Wolf Creek, in which a demented serial killer tortures naive tourists. Unlike Wolf Creek, Rogue is a straight forward genre piece that has been tailored for an American audience with Weinstein’s acting as producers, hoping they can mould this into a sure fit hit internationally. Unfortunately, the pursuit for worldwide commercial success has not transpired as expected and the film has performed miserably at the US box office, with the DVD market only avaliable now in the hope of turning this into a cult film.

Written, produced and directed by McLean, Rogue is a typically predictable exploitation film. An exploitation film is traditionally defined by a modest to low budget, a dependable ensemble cast and a concept that can be simplified so it is palatable for a mainstream audience. Crocodiles attacking humans is a concept ripe for exploitation; simple, scary and effectively told by a film maker who seems very much interested in representing the Australian outback as a mysterious landscape possessed by ancient rituals and mysticism.

So many brilliant film makers have emerged from the Australian film industry over the last ten years; Ray Lawrence (Lantana, Jindabyne) and Gregor Jordan (Buffalo Soldiers) are two examples, but it seems such a shame that the British film industry has fallen way behind in being able to successfully support and encourage the development of indigenous cinema.

Rogue is an effective thriller that borrows elements from the disaster film and doesn’t say anything new or different but provides some cheap thrills and does so without any kind of Hollywood style moralising. Rogue is a fun exploitation film and McClean has real joy working through the formulaic scenarios faced by the group of tourists.

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