Review by Adam Donato
The uninitiated would be surprised to find out that Bad CGI Gator is not associated with 2019’s Bad CGI Sharks. At least that movie had a 90-minute runtime, despite most of the cast lacking pictures on their IMDb profile. Danny Draven directs Bad CGI Gator, which makes sense since his last feature was Weedjies: Halloweed Night. He’s been directing crappy movies since the early 2000s. With a title self-aware about its budget, will the joke be as funny as the movie thinks it is?
Six sexy college students vacation at a cabin in the middle of the woods. When one of the girls has aspirations of going viral, she convinces the gang to throw their laptops into the water as a form of protest. The group is split into couples for the most part: the meathead and the social media-obsessed; the douchebag guy with the airhead girl; The meathead’s shy younger sister; and then a third guy who is a dork and the other two couples hate. The audience is supposed to root for the two dorks and enjoy watching the other two obnoxious couples become fodder for a bad CGI gator. In this regard, the story does function, as the characters are over-the-top annoying. Luckily, the run time is just under an hour. Imagine if they inflated the run time to ninety minutes to make it feel more like a real movie. Enough time is spent with these characters as it is. It’s mildly funny to laugh at how cartoonishly ridiculous everyone is.
The bad CGI gator is the real audience grabber here. When the gator bites the laptops the group ignorantly threw in the water, it starts to electrocute him, and he grows a few sizes. Ironically, the CGI gets better when he grows bigger. Maybe it’s just because more detail can be seen when it enlarges and looks like it actually has a design. This is opposed to earlier in the movie, where it’s just this small, dark shape. Of course, the bit of the bad CGI gator is only a jumping-off point. The gator does many silly, impossible things throughout the film’s back half. The absurdity in the situation is where most of the humor is derived. It’s a pretty awful bit, as the bad special effects are far from the worst elements in the movie. Low budgets limit filmmakers, and this limitation is leaned into for a big joke.
Not to give this movie any technical credit, but it’s surprising how much effort went into shooting scenes in the water. There are several sequences where they do a perspective shot, like in Jaws, where the gator bobs through the swamp water on the prowl. There’s a person with the camera outside in the water. The shot is used to try to create a tension-filled scene without showing the gator that early into the movie. That being said, this movie doesn’t pretend to showcase a convincing-looking creature effect. It’s just nice that any amount of effort was made.
Bad CGI Gator is certainly the type of bad movie to watch with your friends. Make fun of the audacity and stupid characters. It’s trying to be a "so bad it’s good" experience, so have some drinks and have a good time. Expect to see this one on the SyFy channel at 4 am. For better or for worse, this movie knows exactly what it is.
Bad CGI Gator is now available on VOD.