Two couples – Jennifer (Jessica McNamee) and Eric (Luke Mitchell); and Yolanda (Amali Golden) and Viktor (Benjamin Hoetjes) are heading out on an adventure. They’re meeting up with their friend Cash (Anthony J. Sharpe), a river and cave guide, to a newly discovered underwater cave. Jennifer is skeptical, and not much of an explorer, but as she and Eric have been having a rocky time in their relationship, she opts to join in, all smiles. Yolanda and Viktor are celebrating his recent recovery from cancer, and Yoland is pressing Viktor to really live his life – even if it means getting a little dirty and wet. They’re an enthusiastic, if a little inexperienced, group – and this is going to be the getaway they all need.

At their pre-excursion outing, the night before they set off, Jennifer notices that Yolanda isn’t drinking, and prods her, asking if she’s pregnant. In spite of all the odds being stacked against them given Viktor’s treatment, she is. She makes Jennifer swear to secrecy, and the two girls rejoin the group with joy and enthusiasm – taking tons of group photos, listening to Cash’s crazy stories, and enjoying a night of all being young, in love, and ready for adventure.

That adventure starts out as a simple day trip into the underwater cave – as Cash explains that this could be a new business venture for them if they’re able to explore it and charter tours into the cave. The team is skeptical but up for the adventure. Anticipating beautiful scenery and hidden grottos, there’s no way they could prepare for the creature that lives below, and how drastically it’ll change their lives. Not only will they be facing a monster, but they’ll be facing themselves, and their truths. Those photos will be the last they take together, but the truths they learn along their journey will paint a picture none of them are ready to see.

BLACK WATER: ABYSS is jam packed with everything you expect from a horror adventure movie – a giant creature, awful injuries no one is prepared to deal with, gross out moments, and lots and lots of drama. The intricacies of these relationships – particularly between the two couples – are the real story behind BLACK WATER: ABYSS. In reading my synopsis above I’m sure you’re able to fill in the blanks – but in order to stay as spoiler free as possible, I’ll just say, it’s probably a good thing for some characters that not all of the other characters make it out alive. Their lives would never have been the same – they should consider themselves lucky to have fallen victim to a giant cave monster.

All four of our leads, plus Sharpe as Cash, give performances with gregariousness and tenacity that are tangible. They leave everything on the screen – blood, sweat, and tears, and no one holds anything back. While they might not have had the most nuanced or blockbuster level of scripts to deal with, they treat it as such, and their enthusiasm is not only admirable but necessary. So often, these types of movies end up leaving you irritated at every character or waiting for the next one to die — if I’m honest, some of the horror greats even leave me with this feeling (Lambert in Alien, anyone?). Instead, BLACK WATER: ABYSS gives us sympathetic characters in spite of their flaws, and we truly root for all of them along the way.

 

BLACK WATER: ABYSS learned the lesson Jaws taught – less is more when it comes to giant creatures — Especially if they resemble creatures we recognize from the real world. Art Department, Special Effects, Visual Effects, and Creature Effects came together as a tight and cohesive team for this movie, and it benefits the aesthetic of the film greatly.

BLACK WATER: ABYSS is another perfect example of a movie that most likely won’t get the wide release it’s worthy of, but is bound to have quite the life in new media or home entertainment – and it’s sure to make a splash when it does.

8/10 stars

 

BLACK WATER: ABYSS
RATING:UR
Runtime:1hr 38 Mins.
Directed By:
Andrew Traucki
Written By:
John Ridley, Sarah Smith