The Flood presents an interesting idea but struggles to deliver a thriller full of action, horror, and urgency.
As a chick who was born, raised, and spent majority of her life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I always enjoy watching movies set and filmed there to see what kind of depictions they present—especially if hurricanes and floods are part of the narrative. And as is the case with upcoming horror flick The Flood, alligators. While the movie presents an interesting scenario, it struggles to deliver a solid horror thriller full of fear, action, intensity, and gore.
The Flood is written by Chad Law (Section 8) and Josh Ridgway (Howlers) and directed by Brandon Slagle (The Black Dahlia Haunting), who—surprising fun fact—began his career as a heavy metal vocalist. Starring Nicky Whelan (Maneater) and Casper Van Dien (The Most Dangerous Game), the movie centers on a “daring jail break” during a “massive hurricane” in rapidly rising flood waters littered with “a horde of giant hungry alligators.”
That’s the gist, and while I wish I could entice you with interesting subplots or a tease of a totally bad-ass action scene, I honestly can’t. But that doesn’t mean The Flood isn’t worth seeing or talking about, because it is.
We’re dropped right into the action as Hurricane Gustavo bears down on the fictional town of Lutree, in Southwest Louisiana. Some people are making last-minute storm preparations, others are taking cover in nearby shelters, and businesses are shut down as traffic lights swing in swirling winds—all very common actions taken when a hurricane approaches. Gators are out and about in canals and swamps as the flood waters rise, and it’s clear it won’t be long before they are invading Lutree. In fact, they already are as we see early on with a couple of thrilling gator attacks.
With the storm intensifying, a prison transport van carrying five prisoners and their guards needs a place to hole up, so they take refuge at the local jail, where gator-filled flood waters are already pouring in and rising from the sublevel. Eventually, the waters and four hungry gators (hardly a horde) trap everyone in the holding cell room. To make that daring jail break, they must climb up through the ceiling, and this might the only part of the movie that makes us feel some nervous anticipation: As the gators break into the room and move in on another victim at the last second, another guy very narrowly escapes. Definitely a heart-pounding moment.
And that’s pretty much the story tucked in between some sneak gator attacks. Oh, and somewhere in there, a weird out-of-the-blue attraction thing happens between the sheriff and a prisoner that makes us as viewers stop and say, “Wait. What?”
I suppose now might be a good time to mention the sheriff, who is a woman. I’m not disappointed at all by this fact; I love this. But I’m disappointed at how she is portrayed. She’s a hot blonde with big knockers whose makeup is always dewy and perfect and whose hair is always just the right amount of wet to look like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Nothing about her says “official sheriff business.” Beyond being pretty, she does display quick reasoning paired with some not-so-believable fighting skills, but it’s hard to take her effort at displaying authority seriously.
Then there’s the storm footage. The editors did a decent job with this, but if you’re going to splice together video footage of hurricanes and floods, at least aim to find some cohesion amongst your selections, as well as to how they’re laid out in succession in your film. The Flood gives us a hodgepodge of obviously different storms at different intensity levels scattered throughout, and it just does not flow well in getting the audience to believe this is one big, “unprecedented” hurricane.
In fact, by the end of the movie, we don’t see downed trees and powerlines, uprooted boats and cars, and other types of damage beyond flood waters. The worry, anticipation, urgency, and chaos residents commonly feel during a hurricane aren’t present in the narrative enough to heighten the storm’s perceived power and destruction.
While the idea behind The Flood is a good one (short of the ridiculous sheriff-prisoner energy), the attack scenes are lackluster and the thrills could’ve been amped up a few notches to exude more suspense, more horror, more blood, and more gore. The gators could’ve also been more monstrous, angrier, and more bloodthirsty. If you ask me, Alexandre Aja’s Crawl (2019) is a much, much better take on this scenario. It kept my heart racing the whole time; this one, unfortunately, did not.
Overall, The Flood isn’t a bad film; it’s just that nothing really feels natural here except the concept. The acting is a little bland with not-so-memorable characters beyond the sheriff and a smart-mouthed prisoner, the execution feels forced but dry with no real emotion or intention behind the dialogue, and the action scenes lack the kinds of thrills one would expect from a horror film of this nature.
It seems the point of this movie in the beginning was to explore what would happen if a hot babe was the town sheriff and had to risk a daring jail break with federal prisoners amongst hangry gators during a hurricane, but somewhere along the way, the focus shifted to getting the movie completed as quickly as possible. It ends rather abruptly and just as predicted. But don’t take my word for it! Have a go at it yourselves and you be the judge!
The Flood will be released in US theaters, on digital and on demand on July 14, 2023.