Croc! (also known as Crocodile Vengeance) is the first full-length feature from writer/director Paul W. Franklin — and, sadly, some of that inexperience shows through.
Let’s start with the good. We open on a couple camping on an English country estate. Before you can ask, “how long would a crocodile survive in the cold British climate, anyway?”, one half of the couple has removed his shirt for no good reason, revealing some very well chiselled (and well-lit) pecs. We have time to get a good ogle before he is, of course, devoured by a CGI crocodile.
This scene is a fun nod to classic horror tropes, infused with the kind of silly, overt eroticism that I can usually get on board with in a horror flick.
But Croc!’s most frustrating feature also emerges in these opening minutes: the dialogue. Each word is muttered so low that it is almost impossible to hear without straining. The characters are difficult to connect with, largely because we can’t make out what they’re saying. I know I sound like your grandpa here but, seriously actors, enunciate!
The half-whispered dialogue continues, and we meet Dylan (Mark Haldor) as he’s being shown around the same property, during daylight this time. He agrees to rent it for his daughter’s upcoming wedding and seals the deal by having hot sex with the property manager. The scene recalls a B-grade soft porno in a way that would be funnier if it were just a tad campier or over-the-top.
Six months later, Dylan’s daughter, Lisa (Sian Altman), and her husband-to-be, Charlie (George Nettleton), are preparing for their big day. Until a killer crocodile shows up to eat the guests and ruin the festivities.
While some might find Croc!’s sex scenes off-putting, I thought they were an amusing and horny addition that reminded me not to take this movie too seriously. Unfortunately, Croc! doesn’t get its own memo, and frequently misses the opportunity to lean into the absurdity.
The performances are wooden and lack the self awareness necessary to make such hollowness amusing. The one exception is Chrissie Wunna, who plays Lisa’s friend Vanessa. Wunna seems to know exactly what she’s doing. She screams, overacts, and heaves her bosom exactly the way the bad-horror-movie gods intended. Still, one woman can only do so much.
By the end of the second act, Croc! forgets its mission altogether, shoehorning in a half-baked father-daughter relationship narrative and devoting far too much time to an exchange between Charlie and the minister (Chris Cordell of the upcoming Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey) about the nature of God and human suffering. Come for the blood and boobs, stay for the theology and family bonding, I guess.
Ultimately, Croc! just isn’t consistent. Are we in a drama? A comedy? A porno? A monster movie? Mixing genres takes a deft hand, and Franklin doesn’t quite have the skill to keep up the balancing act for 90 minutes while navigating some significant shifts in tone and mood.
Despite the bumps, this silly, bottom-budget British horror is still good for a few laughs. Grab a few friends, order a pizza, and try to take it for what it is. Just don’t expect to ever find out what the hell that crocodile is doing in Britain.
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:
Shannon Page: @ShannonEvePage