Producer: Daemon Hillin Director: Brandon Slagle Screenplay: Chad Law and Josh Ridgway Cast: Casper Van Dien, Nicky Whelan, Louis Mandylor, Devanny Pinn, Ryan Francis, Eoin O’Brien, Randall J. Bacon, Randy Wayne, Bear Williams, Alex Winters, Alex Farnham, Kim DeLonghi, Mike Ferguson, Jonathan Sampson, Luis Nava and Garrett Mahlmeister Distributor: Saban Films
No, “The Flood” isn’t a retelling of the story of Noah and his ark; it’s a creature feature about alligators chomping down people in hurricane-battered Louisiana. Like 2019’s similar “Crawl,” which was set in Florida, it’s hamstrung by poor writing and mediocre effects, but horror movie fans tired of shark week and searching for something vaguely different might bite. (“Crawl” managed to do respectably at the box office despite its flaws.) If they do, they’ll find it doesn’t go down well.
The movie, shot in Thailand (“Crawl” was shot in Serbia) opens with an appetizer previewing the meal to come. Sommer (Devanny Pinn) and Clarence (Garrett Mahlmeister) flee the rising waters by running into a desolate shack. Unfortunately they’re followed and consumed by a big gator. The scene offers a decent jolt as Clarence is suddenly snatched away, but the sight of the gator immediately reveals one of the movie’s glaring deficiencies—the poor CGI. The creature looks like something made of rubber that’s lumbered in from a video game as primitive as alligators are themselves.
Meanwhile prison guard Elkins (Randy Wayne) is driving a transport bus down the flooding road, with five convicts aboard: Cody (Casper Van Dien), Big Jim (Eoin O’Brien), Angelo (Bear Williams), Jox (Randall J. Bacon) and Floyd (Mike Ferguson), whose crimes are carefully noted in a series of caption cards. (On paper Cody, as a cop killer, seems the worst of the thuggish lot, though he looks the most respectable, with mere stubble rather than full beard.) With the weather deteriorating, squirrely Elkins decides to pull in for the night at the remote police station where Sheriff Newman (Nicky Whelan) can put the convicts in cells while they all wait for Hurricane Gustavo to pass.
What he doesn’t know—nor does she—is that big alligators have already found their way into the basement of the building, as one of her inept deputies has already discovered, much to his distress. And it’s not long before there are other intruders—a gang led by Rafe (Louis Mandylor), arrives, guns blazing, to free Cody. For a bit there are echoes of “Assault on Precinct 13,” but these soon pass as Louis and his crew assume control. What they don’t realize is that they’ve thereby made themselves part of the gators’ buffet.
The rest of the movie consists of attempts to evade the insatiable creatures. Since it’s obvious from the start which of the characters will survive, the main questions are in which order the others will be consumed and, of course, whether the series of deaths can be made exciting. The answer to the first doesn’t much matter, since even the figures that emerge as most significant (Cody and Nicky) remain little more than sketches despite some effort by writers Chad Law and Josh Ridgway to give them some depth via a few dull speeches; that to the second is a resounding no, since the staging isn’t terribly imaginative, director Brandon Slagle and editors James Kondelik and Austin Nordell allow the pace to plod even during action sequences, and art director Teerapong Tossopol and cinematographer Niccolo De La Fere provide little but blandly claustrophobic backdrops. The unconvincing CGI gators generated by a firm called CKVFX are certainly of no help in enlivening matters, and Slagle does them no favors by showing them in full as much as possible. Randy Kalsi’s score, which consists basically of a persistent rhythmic thumping, adds little to the mix but aural irritation.
And the cast? Well, they keep straight faces while performing in reaction to the blank spaces where the fake alligators would eventually be inserted, which is about all one can expect of them. When forced to interact among themselves, they intone the dreary dialogue with an attempt to sound tough and, when appropriate, desperate, but it’s all to little avail. Van Dien, who with “Starship Troopers” seemed to have a promising career ahead of him but has since been reduced to DVD-ready fare like this, maintains his composure throughout, and Whelan tries to persuade us that she can toss around guys three times her size with a few martial arts moves, but it’s a losing battle. Mandylor does his practiced bad-guy routine. As for the rest, Wayne makes a proper sniveling redneck, while Bacon and Ferguson are the most notable of the convicts.
“The Flood” is the sort of cheesy creature feature that the SyFy Channel used to specialize in—so bad that it’s almost enjoyable. But the operative words is “almost.”