May 29, 2024

The Flood 2023 Movie Review

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The Flood 2023 Movie Review

There is something about a dangerous animal run amok that excites us as viewers, which makes creature-features a solid staple of modern genre cinema. The latest in the ever-expanding line is The Flood, a movie that pits cops and criminals against a congregation of alligators within a flooded police station during a hurricane. The log-line screams high-concept single situation action thriller and will almost certainly be like catnip to the ears of creature-feature disciples.

Starring Nicky Whelan, Casper Van Dien, and Louis Mandylor, The Flood joins Sheriff Jo Newman (Whelan) as she is preparing her station for the forthcoming Hurricane Gustavo. Unfortunately for her, members of her team are entirely inept and a simple mistake from one of them causes the building to begin to flood. Meanwhile, a prison bus is being driven across Louisiana, filled with a raft of bad types, including a bigoted racist, thief, and cop killer Russell Cody (Van Dien) amongst others. As the storm descends, the guards have no other option than to seek shelter in Sheriff Newman’s station. Meanwhile, unbeknown to anyone, a group of gators have taken advantage of the flood and infiltrated the building.

With so much going on, The Flood can be somewhat difficult to follow in places. In addition to all of the aforementioned plot points, The Flood also features a subplot involving mercenaries, just to muddy the waters further. A classic example of too many cooks, with so many different plot strands, The Flood never knows which one to focus on, resulting in the characters and their arcs falling by the wayside. Even the gators, the main reason for many to seek The Flood out, get side-lined for the bulk of the film as runtime is instead carved out for unnecessary side stories.

The lack of focus means that when characters do start to get picked off by the gators, and each other, there is little impact for the viewer. So much distance lies between viewer and character that it becomes hard to fully invest in their fate. That is not to say that the cast are not giving it their all. Whelan shows great action gusto as the no-nonsense Sheriff. Whilst she may cut a diminutive figure when cast next to her co-stars, she is still afforded moments that assert her power. She quickly proves why Newman is in charge of her station and her strength shines above the men that tower above her. Van Dien adds some star power and he’s always fun to root for whether playing hero or villain.

Unable to coherently articulate an identity all of its own, The Flood is instead a concoction of elements from a large smorgasbord of pre-existing properties. The Flood borrows heavily from Con Air, Hard Rain, Crawl, and Assault on Precinct 13, which perpetuates further the narrative’s schizophrenic structure. Writers Chad Law and Josh Ridgway wear their movie fandom on their sleeves. In addition to the similarities to a heap of other films, the script is laced with further references. There is a discussion about a fifty year super storm, which is likely a nod to Point Break, and a clunky Gremlins joke. Such inclusions were almost certainly intended as little Easter Eggs for the viewer to spot and enjoy, but they feel at odds with the more serious survival elements of the plot.

Of course, when it comes to creature-features, most fans can forgive a weak or confused plot as that’s not why they have sought the film out. They are instead watching to see mankind get owned (and eaten) by the deadliest creatures nature has to offer. In terms of ferocity, animals don’t come much meaner than alligators, which have been around since prehistoric times. They are a perfect apex predator, able to survive in and out of the water, and it’s easy to see how they have spawned their own sub-genre of animal attack movies. Unfortunately, in The Flood the bite is taken out of them; budget constraints are apparent from the first glimpse of the beasts.

Whilst the visuals and environments are kept dim and dingy to try and smooth over the cracks in the gators’ appearance, the effort doesn’t fully pay off. It works to a point, with shots of motionless gators almost passing for the real thing, but as soon as one of the reptiles makes the slightest manoeuvre, the illusion is lost as the visuals scream early Playstation game graphics. Even an attempt at a Gator POV fails to connect, the shots randomly appearing; the technique feels stylistically at odds with the look and feel of the rest of The Flood.

A disappointing entry into the creature-feature halls of fame, The Flood is still at least watchable. It is far from the mangled mess of some of its peers, but its inability to hone in on a solid story make it hard for the viewer to fully invest. An over-reliance of utilising tropes from other pre-existing properties pushes the audience even further away. The overall result is film that, like the police station within, makes for a passable bolthole, but not somewhere you’ll likely revisit.

The Flood 2023 Movie Review