The film opens as a forensic anthropologist in the African bush is looking over a mass grave of people who have been killed by what she claims are identical gunshot wounds. The woman and a UN soldier head away from the mass grave to inspect another one. She digs her shovel into what she believes is another grave only to be attacked by an unseen creature. The anthropologist is dragged into the water as the soldier opens fire. Other soldiers shoot at the attacker but it kills the woman and drags her into deeper water to consume her.
In a New York City newsroom, Tim (Purcell) is talking on his phone, while looking at a TV to see if his name is mentioned in connection with a case that he was working on in which the evidence was falsified. His cameraman and friend Steven is telling him maybe their boss, Roger, did not see or hear what was being broadcast, when Tim is asked to see Roger. Tim sees Roger who does not want to talk about his contract just yet, but instead introduces him to Aviva, a woman standing by another television set viewing a report about the anthropologist whose fate we saw. Aviva is a reporter who deals with animal stories, and she is interested in the story of Gustave, an enormous crocodile known to have killed hundreds of people in Africa. Tim is browbeaten into going to Africa with her to capture Gustave alive, taking Steven along.
At the airport in Burundi they are met by Harry, who warns them about the dangers of the bush including a dangerous warlord who has nicknamed himself "Little Gustave", but fails to delay their departure with wildlife expert Matt Collins. Their boat has machine-gun toting guards, who fight off an attack on their boat from the shore. When the party reach the village, they meet their guide, Jacob, and are blessed by the local shaman. The friendly villagers assemble a steel cage in order to catch Gustave, and take it to a nearby swamp. The first attempt to capture Gustave fails, but Matt manages to shoot him with a tracking dart. Steven, while getting scenic video, catches on film Little Gustave himself executing the shaman along with his family.
Jojo, a villager who helped set up the cage, tries to capture Gustave using himself as bait, in the hopes that if he captures Gustave the group would take him to America. One of the guards is caught stealing money from a tent, and is about to rape Aviva when Gustave arrives and kills him. Aviva runs to the group, and they return to the devastated camp. The guards work for Little Gustave, and the remaining guard shoots and wounds Jacob; just as he is about to execute the whole group, Jojo shoots him with Jacob's elephant gun.
While Jacob's wound is being treated, Gustave attacks the group. Jacob recalls the story of how his wife, Ona, was killed by Gustave, and that he swore revenge. Jacob produces a grenade, and detonates it as Gustave attacks him in an attempt to kill him, but fails. A helicopter arrives to airlift the survivors, but Little Gustave's men attempt to blow it up to stop them from obtaining the video of the execution. Matt is struck by a car and shot to death by Little Gustave's men, and the group gets separated and both of Little Gustave's men are killed, one dies when the truck they are in crashes into a tree, while the other is shot by Aviva when he tries to strangle Tim to death. When Gustave chases Steven, Tim goes to look for him, but Aviva has to stay with the injured Jojo. He only finds Steven's camera. Harry arrives in a Range Rover, but Tim realises that he is Little Gustave and wants the video evidence.
Tim attempts to trick Harry by giving him the GPS locater for the dart that tracks Gustave, saying it tracks a suitcase that contains the video. Harry declines and forces Tim to find the "suitcase". While searching, Tim finds Steven's mutilated body, and kills the guard that was sent with him. Aviva splatters crocodile pheromones over Harry, and Gustave comes and devours the warlord. Tim, Jojo and Aviva climb into the Range Rover followed by Gustave, but they manage to escape home. The ending states that with the death of Little Gustave, the civil war ended for good, but Gustave is seen still very much alive and killing people.
- Dominic Purcell as Tim Manfrey
- Brooke Langton as Aviva Masters
- Orlando Jones as Steven Johnson
- Jürgen Prochnow as Jacob Krieg
- Gideon Emery as Matt Collins
- Gabriel Malema as Jojo
- Linda Mpondo as Gold Tooth
The film's promotional trailer dubs Gustave a "serial killer", who has claimed more than 300 victims and "remains at large". It is compared to Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer with his non-human status never mentioned except for a brief line where the narrator says, "He's real, but he's not human." A shortened version of this trailer does not contain this at all. However, in the trailer, a crocodile, presumably Gustave, briefly flashes on screen. The promotional poster similarly calls Gustave "the most prolific serial killer in history". The film's official website rarely makes any mention that the killer is in fact a crocodile.
The film gained negative reception, gaining a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Filming commenced in April 2006 in South Africa.
Another crocodile horror film, Rogue, had to be pushed back until Fall 2007 because of the film's similarities with Primeval.
- Primeval at AllRovi
- Official Primeval DVD Website
- Primeval at Rotten Tomatoes
- National Geographic – Gustave: Have You Seen This Crocodile?
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