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Bad movies come in three main varieties. First are the movies that try to be good, but various failures end up making them “bad.” These movies can be enjoyable in unintentional ways. Second are the movies that actively attempt to be bad as a way to capitalize on the “so bad it’s good” aesthetic. The manufactured badness of these films can make them unenjoyable in unintentional ways. And then there are the movies that try to be bad, but do so in a clever way that makes them entirely enjoyable in completely intentional ways. Bad CGI Gator falls into this rare, third category.
The Story: Simple and Silly
Bad CGI Gator takes place at a cabin by a lake in Georgia where six college students plan to spend spring break. Before the drunken debauchery begins, most of the group participates in a ceremonial tossing of their school laptops into the lake as a way to symbolize their defiance of society and its rules (and, more importantly, as a way to go viral online). Their submerged laptops end up turning a small, relatively harmless alligator into a large and very harmful CGI gator which then tries to eat them all.
That’s really all there is to the story. The alligator eats people, and the people try to survive long enough to find a way to escape. Bad CGI Gator is not the kind of movie where you expect a deep story or, frankly, for anything to make sense. Why does the electricity from the laptops transform the gator? Why doesn’t the gator, who has the ability to float, just break through the large windows of the cabin to get at the people inside? Don’t ask. It doesn’t matter. The point of Bad CGI Gator is to watch a computer-generated alligator terrorize a group consisting mostly of people you want to see get eaten.
The Good: The Characters, the Tone, and the Gator
Bad CGI Gator gets a lot of things right because it doesn’t overthink anything. Director Danny Draven and writer Zalman Band knew exactly the kind of movie they were making, and they did it well. It is a straightforward animal-attack movie with a ludicrous premise. The good stuff is all about setting up victims for the gator to hunt, and the script breezes through character introductions to get to heart of the movie as quickly as possible.
That’s not to say the characters aren’t memorable. The cast does a good job embodying b-movie archetypes, so much so that within the first few minutes we know who we’re supposed to like, who will get eaten, and more or less the order in which they will be dispatched by the gator. Every cast member has their moment to shine. From the meathead alpha-male’s mind-numbing banter, to the social-media-obsessed airhead’s charmingly dated Gen-Z-speak, the characters are funny without being annoying. Or at least, when they are annoying it’s intentional and good. That way it’s more satisfying when they end up as prey for the gator.
Also good in Bad CGI Gator is the adherence to the hallmarks of b-grade horror movies. There are scenes with moderate gore, moments of brief nudity, and lots of campy action. Bad CGI Gator is a movie made for people who love b-movies. It understands that its audience is in on the joke of how bad these movies can be, and that’s why we love them so much. The movie also doesn’t overstay its welcome. At just under an hour long, Bad CGI Gator keeps the pace up and rolls the end credits well before the intentional badness of the film has a chance to turn sour.
And, of course, CGI alligator itself is the grand highlight of Bad CGI Gator. Still images don’t really do the gator justice though, because the general look of the computer-generated creature is quite good for what it is. The badness of the gator is best seen when it is in motion. It skitters as it moves, seeming to float above the ground even when it’s supposed to be walking. Other times it floats high in the air, much to the surprise of its intended victims. CGI monsters seeming to “float” within a scene is a problem many low-budget creature features have, so Bad CGI Gator making floating a defining character trait rather than a flaw of the film is fantastic. The gator also changes in size, mocking the issues of fluctuating scale many monster movies have. The gator itself is an extremely clever conduit for the parody that the movie offers.
The Bad: Subjective Nitpicking
A title like Bad CGI Gator kind of makes the movie immune to criticism. It’s supposed to be bad, so when it is bad, it’s good. That said, comedy, like horror, is highly subjective. So, some people won’t be into the eye-rolling comedy style the movie tends to rely on.
The few nitpicks of Bad CGI Gator come down to personal preferences. While practical effects are used for much of the blood and dismembered body parts in the movie, there are a few times where CGI blood is used, sometimes even when the gator isn’t directly involved. As a movie that is mocking bad CGI, it would have been nice to see all of the blood and gore effects be practical with only the alligator being digital. After all, the movie is titled Bad CGI Gator, not Bad CGI Horror Movie. But again, this is a personal preference.
One other thing that comes to mind is that Bad CGI Gator might not be bad enough for some audiences. It doesn’t have the relentless, beat-you-over-the-head manufactured badness of a movie like Sharknado (2013). Personally, this is a good thing, but many people enjoy the Sharknado movies. Bad CGI Gator also isn’t as astoundingly awful as a movie like Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010) which is surprisingly bad in nearly every category. Bad CGI Gator is actually well made, which, oddly, might disqualify it as a good bad movie in some people’s estimation (if that makes any sense).
The Final Recommendation
Bad CGI Gator is a parody of bad movies, but it is also an entertaining example of one. It made me laugh consistently throughout, and I would recommend it to fans of b-movies and people who enjoy laughable animal-attack movies. Also, fans of the types of sci-fi and monster movies that used to air on the Syfy channel all the time, and fans of movies from distributors like The Asylum (Aquarium of the Dead, 3-Headed Shark Attack) are the target audience for Bad CGI Gator. And, obviously, fans of Full Moon Features will absolutely want to check it out.
For everyone else, Bad CGI Gator is a silly horror comedy that is a quick and easy watch at only 58 minutes long. Take a look at the trailer below, and if you like what you see, you’ll definitely enjoy the full movie.
Bad CGI Gator premieres on Amazon Prime Video and FullMoonFeatures.com on November 24th, 2023.