Uh-oh! New Orleans might be in trouble!
In the 2000 film, On Hostile Ground, John Corbett plays a geologist named Matt Andrews. Matt has been asked to investigate why two giant sinkholes have suddenly opened in New Orleans. The mayor’s press secretary, George Regan (Peter Stebbins), hopes that Matt will just do a perfunctory investigation and then declare the sinkholes to be no big deal. After all, it’s nearly time for Mardi Gras and it would be an economic disaster to cancel this year’s celebration. One can only assume that, like most movie bureaucrats, Regan has never seen Jaws and therefore doesn’t understand the folly of saying, “We can’t close the city during tourist season!”
However, Matt’s a geologist and he holds himself up to a higher standard. He doesn’t care about whether or not people get to celebrate Mardi Gras or not. In fact, just listening to him talk and watching him work, you get the feeling that Matt was probably the guy who, during previous Mardi Gras celebrations, would say, “You guys go without me. I’ve got to get some work done.” Anyway, Matt does some investigating and discovers that New Orleans is basically about to collapse into the Earth. It could happen tomorrow or it could happen 3,000 years from now but it will happen. Matt also points out that, even if the entire city manages to not sink into the Earth, the sinkholes could cause the levees to collapse and then the entire city would be flooded. (This movie was made before Katrina.)
Regan hears Matt out and then decides to hide all of his evidence and let Mardi Gras go on as planned.
Can you guess what happens?
There’s a few things that I immediately noticed about On Hostile Ground.
First off, my family lived in Louisiana for about a year and a half. I’ve been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I can usually tell when a film has actually been shot in Louisiana as opposed to some place nearby like, say, Georgia. Watching On Hostile Ground, I noticed that it appeared that at least a few of the Mardi Gras scenes had actually been filmed in New Orleans. There wasn’t quite as much Mardi Gras footage as I was expecting but what there was appeared to be authentic. However, whenever the action moved outside of the French Quarter, I couldn’t help but notice that the surroundings looked very Canadian and that very few of the extras sounded like they had ever spent any time anywhere near the Big Easy. In short, it quickly became obvious that the majority of this made-for-television film was shot in Montreal and Toronto. Canada really can’t pass for Louisiana, much as how they could have never shot an episode of Degrassi in New Orleans.
The other thing I noticed is that, despite New Orleans being below sea level, Matt and his fellow geologists had no trouble finding dry underground caverns underneath the city. It reminded me a bit of that old X-Files movie where the kids find an underground cavern right outside of Dallas. Some things just aren’t going to happen, okay?
Anyway, this is one of those low-budget disaster films where everyone refuses to listen to the scientist and disaster follows. This is the type of film that, nowadays, would probably be made by the Asylum for the SyFy Network. That said, the Asylum version would probably be a lot more fun because there would be probably be like a sea serpent or killer Mardi Gras floats or something. This one is just kind of dull and spends too much time on build-up without enough pay-off.
On Hostile Ground is not really worth sacrificing any beads for.