Haley is a professional swimmer which means she can (1) hold her breath for long periods underwater and (2) swim faster than alligators. Both of these may well prove useful later in the film. When storms hit Florida, she breaks through police lines to look for her father, who, for reasons of Plot, she finds stuck in his flooded basement.
Haley also gets trapped and they only have a finite amount of time before the floodwater reaches ceiling level. Meanwhile a couple of alligators have joined them. Haley and dad use the time partly to sort out various father-daughter issues, most notably that Haley feels that the time her father spent taking her to swimming lessons contributed to her parents’ marriage breakup.
Standard film convention means that there’s very little real dramatic tension here. You know that Haley will survive, and put dad’s chances at 50/50. The one real doubt is whether their irritating dog will make it to the end of the film. But there’s still plenty of unexpected shots of alligators popping in and trying to take out chunks of their various limbs.
This is not John Sayles’s Piranha, where the deadly fish are only in the water because of the needs of big business. These alligators are here purely and simply because we’re in Florida and alligators are big and scary. So, there’s no hidden message, except maybe that you should call your dad more often.
It contains nothing unexpected but it is what it is, and you have no right to go into an alligator film expecting any more. It looks good, contains at least as much tension as you could seriously expect and the actors are good enough for you to believe in the characters. And extra points for an actiony film where its the woman who does the heavy lifting while a man watches on helplessly.
I saw this on the Saturday night horror slot, partly because I’d just been to a party nearby, and I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time. Apparently its going to be on general release, and if you like that sort of thing its well worth a go.