Survival against vicious wildlife is nothing new in the horror/thriller genre. Between Deep Blue Sea (Saffron Burrows, Samuel L. Jackson, 1999), Lake Placid (Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, 1999), and the more recent Paramount hit Crawl (Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, 2019), this subgenre is swarming with water-dwelling predator flicks. Director Brandon Slagle (Crossbreed, Attack of the Unknown) takes a crack at these dangerous waters, mirroring the latter aforementioned blockbuster with his own spin in his latest feature The Flood.
Giving a taste of what’s to come, The Flood opens with alligator action as a pair of strangers seek shelter from an escalating storm. However, they quickly discover they aren’t alone. Fleeing from Mother Nature’s wrath, they find themselves running straight into the jaws of alligator-infested waters. Although nature horror films typically postpone beastly reveals, opting for quick off-screen deaths in opening scenes, Slagle wastes no time showcasing what lurks beneath the rising tide.
Other than setting the tone with gator brutality and a brewing storm, this attention-grabbing opening scene unfortunately adds nothing to the plot. However, it’s clear Slagle and screenwriters Chad Law and Josh Ridgway have seen their fair share of Animal Planet as they showcase the true-to-life alligator death roll – a vicious maneuver that means curtains for the reptile’s prey. And, those familiar with indie horror, will recognize Devanny Pinn (Death Count 2022) as the opening scene’s gator meal number two.
Setting the stage for what’s to come, The Flood introduces Sheriff Jo Newman (Nicky Whelan, Hall Pass 2011) as she prepares to shelter transit inmates at her jail to wait out the developing hurricane. However, her team of officers takes little of the situation seriously. This proves a grave mistake as the increasing storm becomes the least of their problems.
As the prisoners convicted of various offenses arrive, including Russell Cody (Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers 1997) who’s labeled a cop killer, a team of outlaws gets into place for a jailbreak. Meanwhile, the water is rising in the jail’s basement and unwelcome gators are also seeking shelter from the hurricane. Oblivious to these hidden dangers, Newman unflinchingly asserts herself as the building’s authority – something Whelan manages to pull off despite her petite frame compared to the convicted guests. It isn’t long before a gator draws first blood, outlaws bust through the door with guns blazin’, and all hell breaks loose. Of course, the unfolding events force inmates, outlaws, and officers to team up for survival against hungry gators as the building floods.
With the general hurricane, flooding, and gator synopsis, comparison to Crawl is inevitable. I would be lying if I said the two films’ movie poster designs weren’t even similar. And some of the CGI puts this feature in danger of appearing like a Syfy Channel-esque knockoff. However, there are multiple plot angles that are juggled and blended surprisingly well.
From the moment of his introduction, you can tell Cody is no cop killer. His demeanor alone shows a man who’s innocent but accepting of his fate. While he may be wrongfully convicted, it sparks curiosity as to how he ended up on a bus full of hardened criminals. This backstory tying into the jailbreak adds enough spice to this feature to keep things interesting with a sense of originality.
While it’s far from perfect, The Flood keeps its head above water by indie standards with exceptional performances, its crime subplot, and a few ass-kicking gator scenes. This triple threat – nature horror with a crime twist – is an entertaining popcorn flick deserving of any indie horror lover’s to-watch list.