Hard Rain meets Crawl in The Flood, director Brandon Slagle’s ultra-low-budget creature feature that would feel right at home in the 11:00 PM Tuesday night slot on the SyFy Channel, where its subpar special effects and laughable dialogue could be enjoyed in the proper, inebriated/drug-induced state. Not that The Flood is interested in becoming some modern-day cult classic à la Sharknado and its copious sequels. Indeed, Slagle and co. take the material so seriously — and not in a way that results in appealing camp — that there is barely any fun to be had here, period, regardless of the number of brewchachos consumed during its mercifully brief runtime.
The Flood opens with a diverse range of stock footage featuring inclement weather, informing viewers that Louisiana is about to be pummeled by a storm “worse than Hurricane Katrina” ( also, maybe don’t name-check that real-life tragedy for your D-movie shenanigans). Two strangers seek shelter and are promptly attacked by an alligator so cheaply rendered that one imagines a few twos somehow got sucked into its all the ones and zeros. We then cut to a busload of inmates being transported to a new facility, their names and various misdeeds introduced through on-screen text that instantly brings to mind Con Air, as if this movie could withstand another comparison to something actually entertaining. They end up taking refuge at a small-town precinct presided over by Sheriff Jo Newman (Nicky Whelan), who spends most of her time staring at a picture of her dead father that sits on her desk. Meanwhile, a group of vicious career criminals — headed by the ruthless Rafe Calderon (Louis Mandylor) — waits outside, and they have their sights set on freeing one of the inmates, “cop killer” Russell Cody (Casper Van Dien).
What follows is a whole lot of slow-motion shootouts, which ultimately lead to Newman and her fellow deputies being held hostage. But wouldn’t you know it, the flooding has caused four hungry alligators to somehow make their way into the precinct, leaving viewers to ponder the truly profound questions, like, “Who are the real beasts here? The criminals, or the blood-thirsty reptiles intent on ripping all of these individuals to shreds?” Viewers better wear a hat, lest their minds be blown. It’s too easy to make fun of a film like The Flood, but the thing is, everyone both in front of and behind the camera — minus the VFX artists and the editors — are fully committed to the material to the point that they earn more goodwill than should be afforded something this bargain-bin. It’s nearly heartbreaking after a while, watching everyone desperately try to elevate material that couldn’t be lifted with a crane. The central premise, while derivative, isn’t entirely terrible, with Slagle far more interested in the random shootouts and scenes of hand-to-hand combat than all of the alligator bullshit. Indeed, this aspect could be completely removed and would be all the better for it. A scene where Whelan is forced into one-on-one cage matches with a few of the various inmates is legitimately executed, proving the director has some filmmaking chops, even as the digital photography remains as garish as ever. And then those stupid alligators show up again, and everyone is forced to scream and scurry before becoming a sudden spurt of red dye beneath the water.
In fairness, the CGI beasties look far better in the murky water, where their deficiencies can be properly masked; frankly, they should have remained there. Yet for all of the hard work and dedication on display — seriously, all of these actors know their way around a low-budget set, God bless ‘em — there’s nothing to redeem a film so lazy that it can’t even be consistent with the time of day in its endless establishing shots, or how the B-roll storm footage works tirelessly to bridge its disparate scenes together. The ending is especially pathetic, as if the production completely ran out of money and couldn’t afford working jet skis, stitching in some stock footage as the credits roll. The Flood is all wet.
Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 28.