A movie rarely delivers on exactly what it promises. This is especially true of horror films. We all love the genre but go back to the heyday of video stores and VHS artwork fooled us on the regular. Bad CGI Gator, the latest creature feature from Charles Band‘s wonky Full Moon, is nothing, if not honest. We’re promised a bad CGI gator, and by golly, we get one.
Six college kids decide to spend their spring break at a remote cabin in the swamps of Georgia, as most young kids like to do these days. They’re a loud and obnoxious group with plans to get drunk and bang while going viral on the tickety tocks and instant grams. Naturally, they must start every day with a fit check. I mean, is there any other way to slay? Youths.
To kick off the festivities for the week, Sarah (Rebecca Stoughton) gives an impassioned speech about how Gen Z does not care what the olds think and would rather focus on having fun and enjoying life. Sarah and the gang cap off the riveting talk by tossing their school-provided laptops into the nearby lake. While an impressive act of rebellious defiance, it brings with it disastrous consequences. The electricity from the not-plugged-into-any-sort-of-electrical-outlet laptops creates a surge that turns a cute little bad CGI gator into a giant man-eating bad CGI gator. Uh oh.
The gator, it looks bad. And when it eats people, it looks bad. But the film knows this and has fun with it. One character regularly comments on how the gator does not look real. And it’s not all bad CGI. The film does use some practical blood and we see some practical limbs tossed about. At one point the gator uses his tail to knock a head he ripped off through a basketball hoop. Wet like he’s Book.
Making an intentionally bad movie is a risky proposition. A lot of times it feels like the filmmaker is just saying, “Hey, look how dumb this is! Isn’t it funny?” And more often than not, it isn’t funny. It’s just a bad, lazy movie. Fortunately, Bad CGI Gator is not that. Yes, it is bad, but director Danny Draven and writer Zalman Band have some tongue-in-cheek fun with it. They’re fully aware of the countless shoddy monster movies in existence and go over the top to poke fun at them. If nothing else, young Zalman’s script suggests he’ll have no problem carrying on the Band empire.
Humor is subjective, so mileage will vary, but the film certainly tries to make you laugh. While a lot of it didn’t land for me, I chuckled out loud a handful of times. There’s a running gag about the first girl attacked by the gator and everyone forgetting about her. The film’s nerdy character (Michael Bonini) is mocked for his attire to which he responds, “This is a nice shirt. It’s Bonobos.” That’s a good joke.
The gator is bad, the characters are endlessly annoying, and a lot of the jokes fall flat. With that said, Bad CGI Gator has some goofy fun and never pretends to be something it’s not. And at a runtime of just about an hour, you don’t have to commit much of your time. No one will ever place it amongst the best Band productions, but it’s certainly a fitting addition to the larger catalogue. Gather ’round with some friends on a Saturday afternoon, grab a pizza, and have a good time.