It may come as a surprise that the Australian horror flick Black Water is actually based on a true and terrifying crocodile attack from 2003.
Horror movies have the power to evoke strong feelings of anxiety and fear from their viewers. Whether from a sudden jolt of a jump scare or even just the appearance of the killer, the sheer terror that arises from this genre can be quite effective, even when knowing that it is all just a work of fiction. However, if a movie also boasts the “based on a true story” disclaimer right at the very beginning, the gravity of the horror that is about to unfold hits just a little differently, and it even begs the question of how much of the movie was inspired by actual events.
Black Water is an Australian horror film from 2007 that, at first glance, seems like another low-budget effort to capitalize off of other crocodile creature features like Lake Placid. So when this movie’s opening warns audiences that “This film is based on true events,” the warning may seem generic to some people, given that crocodiles and other predatory animals that have starred as the monsters of horror films are just as prone to attacking humans in real life. Despite being a work of fiction, Black Water is purposeful with its foreboding message, as its story was inspired by a real-life tragic event that happened four years earlier.
Black Water Is Based on a True Crocodile Encounter
As reported by Daily Mail, in December 2003, Shaun Blowers, Ashley McGough and Brett Mann took their quad bikes (similar to ATVs or four-wheelers) out for a ride through the swampy bushland near the Finniss River, a river south of the city of Darwin in Australia. Stopping by the river to cool off, the tide began to rise, and the three teenagers were attacked by a crocodile. In an attempt to escape from the creature, Mann’s shoulder was unfortunately grabbed by the crocodile’s mouth, causing him to be dragged underwater by the large reptile. Blowers and McGough were able to climb up into a tree before the crocodile returned.
After 22 hours of being up in a tree, a rescue helicopter was able to find and save the two young men from the crocodile in the river below. A search for the missing teens had been in progress since their disappearance from Sunday evening into late Monday when they did not return home that night. While Blowers and McGough were taken to the hospital to recover from the traumatic incident, Mann’s body was sadly never found.
How Black Water Dramatized True Events
While Black Water’s plot does have a brutal crocodile attack and the survivors holding up in a tree as they wait for any sort of rescue, the similarities between the movie and the devastating real-life story end there. Instead of three friends quad biking near the river, Black Water’s main cast involves husband Adam, his wife Grace, his sister Lee and tour guide Jim, who is the first victim of the crocodile, going on a boat tour to do some fishing. Quickly into the movie’s runtime, the crocodile attacks their boat, which claims the first victim and prompts the family to climb up the tree and eventually attempt to get the boat back into working order. By the end of the movie, Lee is the only survivor as Adam and Grace both die from crocodile-related injuries; Lee confronts the animal by shooting and killing the river monster with a revolver before wading down the water, leaving her fate unknown as the credits roll.
In the real-life tragedy, while the crocodile did continue to stalk Blowers and McGough, Black Water took a more anthropomorphic approach with the movie’s monstrous reptile. As is the case with the antagonistic animals of the creature feature genre, this crocodile exhibits a far more aggressive attitude than its real-life counterpart may, going so far as to actually tip the tour guide boat over without any sort of provocation. While crocodiles are definitely dangerous and are known to attack both humans and other animals, especially in Australia, the relentless nature of Black Water’s beast may have been slightly exaggerated for the horror aspect of the film. Regardless, these attacks still occur in real life and are sometimes fatal, like in the tragic case that was the inspiration for Black Water. In the case of a crocodile encounter, though, one fact does remain the same in both the real-life story and the movie — be sure to get out of the water as quickly as possible.