Croc Thriller Saltwater: The Battle for Ramree Island (2021) Sinks Under Pressure
Title: Saltwater: The Battle for Ramree Island
First Non-Festival Release: June 1, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Steve Lawson
Writer: Steve Lawson
Runtime: 82 Minutes
Starring: Glenn Salvage, Jas Steven Singh, Ryan Harvey
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
A group of soldiers are sent on a mission to locate and photograph the munitions store on a Japanese occupied island during World War II. As they carefully go about their mission, they learn the deadly secret of the island. Deep within the swamp, crocodiles rule over the land and water and will kill anyone who wanders into their territory. With time running out to make their trip worthwhile and the looming threat of the Japanese soldiers finding and executing them, the group must brave their way through the wilderness if they have any hopes of surviving.
Saltwater: The Battle for Ramree Island is a flat and lifeless creature feature that bores more than it frightens.
The claws on this creature feature are dull and in serious need of sharpening. For a film with such a nice opportunity to showcase some good ole fashioned crocodile carnage, Saltwater: The Battle for Ramree Island plays about as exciting as CSPAN on a Sunday morning. This entire movie can be summarized wholly as soldiers whispering in the twilight before disappearing via crocodile attack, most of which occur offscreen. I get that budget constraints are real but at least up the tension before the big reveal.
A story based on conveniences and the thinnest plot possible, Saltwater: The Battle for Ramree Island wades into the all-too familiar tropes present in war creature features. The only twist here is that it is set in World War II and reads as fanfiction of a real-life story of crocodiles killing over 1000 Japanese soldiers. It would be interesting if we had anyone worth rooting for, but the stock characters are played with little personality or reason to care for them by mediocre actors that don’t strive to deliver anything above overwrought and underwhelming performances.
Even beyond the plot, this is a poorly put-together film. We are treated to dull and repetitive dialogue that serves as filler for the already stretched 80-minute runtime. If that’s not bad enough, one scene repeats verbatim twice, almost as if they were stuck in a time loop. It’s jarring and irritating. It’s also an exceptionally dark film. Poor lighting makes it difficult to digest what’s happening onscreen, which feels very intentional. The camerawork in general is flat and largely uninteresting so it could be attributed to ignorance before malice. Overall, there’s very little to like about Saltwater: The Battle for Ramree Island.
While it’s bad, it’s not the absolute worst film out there. The crocodile effects aren’t terrible. This is partly because you rarely see the entirety of the crocodile for more than a few seconds. Even by the end, it’s subjected to shots of its snout or claws. With its slow pacing, the film does exercise great restraint in getting to the “good stuff.” I’d argue that they could have gone a little bit farther and shown more, but it’s nice to see a creature feature attempt to focus on atmosphere before the kills.
Ultimately, this low budget schlock isn’t worth the time of even the most forgiving of B-movie connoisseurs. Despite possessing the makings of an adequate monster movie, Saltwater: The Battle for Ramree Island does very little to get audience buy-in. The action and suspense are absent, the characters are hopelessly static, and the croc itself is barely featured in the film. If you’re down to watch an hour and twenty minutes of a few guys talking in the dark without much else happening, this is absolutely the film for you. If that is not the case do yourself a favor and satisfy your crocodile curiosity with one of the far stronger offerings that are currently online. With a pitiful bite and dull roar, this monster movie does nothing to further the sub-genre and is nothing more than clickbait.
Overall Score? 3/10