Tuesday, November 5, 2013

SyFy vs. The Mynd: Ragin' Cajun Redneck Gators (2013)

Warning: I'm going to spoil a perfectly excellent bizarre plot development of the kind one doesn't necessarily see coming, so proceed at your own risk.

Avery Doucette (Jordan Hinson) left her family home in the swamps of Louisiana some years ago to go to college, and because she didn't want to end up as the Southern white trash cliché everyone around her was. Now she's back, bringing with her excellent personal grooming habits and veganism. Avery hardly has time to rekindle her old Romeo and Juliet love for Tristan (Victor Webster), youngest and least incest-hit member of the traditional enemy of her clan, the Robichauds. For a strange, new and highly aggressive, species of gators, red of neck (oh yes they went there), with practical spike-shooting tails and a higher intelligence than usual is appearing in the area, and these Redneck Gators are hungry.

Once the gators start eating, Avery will have to drop parts of her vegan ways right quick, or there won't be any happy ending for her and Tristan. Perhaps it would also be helpful if the Doucettes and the Robichauds could forget their feud for a bit. Fat chance.

But wait, there's more: did I mention these animals are weregators caused by bad, chemically enhanced moonshine dumped in the swamp? Or that, like the bite of all good were-creatures, their bites are contagious?

So yeah, Ragin' Cajun Redneck Gators is Griff Furst doing the crazy monster movie dance for SyFy again, something that for me generally results in films I utterly loathe (don't mention Arachnoquake) or films that are the proverbial (gator oil) barrel of fun. RCRG clearly belongs to the latter group, hitting that sweet spot where a film is funny and whacky, yet also mildly subversive (just look at that ending, in which Avery ends up exactly like she didn't want to end up; you shouldn't go home again, it seems), as well as a perfectly fun piece of monster movie.

RCRG clearly knows what its audience wants - Cajun clichés and gator attacks - and has no qualms delivering that, but it also has no qualms at adding some unexpected depths (or at least complications) to its characters, nor does it shy away from making a very ambiguous commentary on the nature of "home" and "family" on a subtextual level. It's the best of both worlds and - I have used the comparison before when talking about some of these films - reminds me of the kind of film Roger Corman produced in his early New World Pictures days, films as stupid and silly as they could get away with (which is more today than it was back then), yet also as clever and fun as the people involved could manage.

Of course, there are also the expected "rednecks at dinner" jokes, a guy who never leaves his banjo, and gold teeth that transform right with you from human to gator, so if the film's interest in the thoughts about feeling strange among your own kin, of loving one's family but not belonging with it, isn't your cup of tea, it certainly isn't going to push it on you. Here, have an awesome gator attack and a bad joke instead. I for my part take, and love, of course all of it.

Speaking of these gator attacks, RCRG surprised me with some of the CGI being on the more convincing side, with more way more good moments than bad. This time around, the murderous animals actually seem to be having a physical presence, even when the script asks the effects crew for a half a dozen of them on screen at once. They are of course not perfect, but then when are effects ever perfect?

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