Deep in the endless gorges of the Northern Territory a tour group is about to meet a rogue crocodile, nature's ultimate killing machine, perfected over hundreds of millions of years.
Such is the simple premise of writer-director Greg McLean's monster movie Rogue, the follow-up to his controversial debut Wolf Creek.
Potential snacks for the massive reptile include Radha Mitchell's no-nonsense boat captain, Michael Vartan's visiting American travel writer, Stephen Curry's boozy photographer and Sam Worthington's redneck with a heart of gold.
After their boat sinks, they're stranded on a tidal mud island, waiting to be picked off one by one. This is simple stuff, but McLean makes Rogue a rollercoaster ride of a creature feature.
He knows his horror movies but better still, he knows that we know them and subverts our expectations. There were a few scares here that had me jumping in my seat.
Movies like Rogue depend on a slow reveal of their monster – because what we imagine will always be scarier than what's eventually put on screen.
Here the movie succeeds with the initial attacks happening in the blink of an eye. And when the big croc is revealed, it doesn't disappoint.
Thanks to the work of Aussie fx company Fuel and animatronics from John Cox, who won the Oscar for Babe, this is a massive but realistic chomping machine you wouldn't want to meet in a darkened swamp.
McLean gets solid performances from his cast but the characters and dialogue aren't as inspired as they could have been.
Horror movie directors really need to revisit the likes of Jaws and Alien to see how creating memorable protagonists raises the stakes higher and higher because we're desperate for our heroes to survive.
Also worth mentioning is the absolutely gorgeous cinematography by Will Gibson. He and McLean make the Northern Territory look picture postcard perfect which makes the movie almost a dare for tourists: come here, maybe get eaten.
I thought Rogue was much more fun than the overly grim, not especially frightening Wolf Creek, and I'm eager to see what Greg McLean does next.
This is a good, old-fashioned monster movie. 3 ½ stars.
Thursday 7 October, 8:30pm on NITV / Streaming after broadcast at SBS On Demand
Genre: Action, Adventure, Horror
Director: Greg McLean
Starring: Michael Vartan, Barry Otto, Radha Mitchell, Sam Worthington