Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Terror in a Tub! The Drownsman (2014) Review

The Drownsman (2014)
Director: Chad Archibald
Starring: Michelle Mylett, Caroline Korycki and Gemma Bird Matheson
Running Time: 88 min

 I really dug the poster for this and seeing that I've almost drowned more times than I would have liked, I had a morbid fascination with this film.  I was unfamiliar with the cast and crew, so I didn't know what to expect and hoped for some good, clean, horror fun and not something that I'd want to pull the plug on.  So, I slipped into the film and had my lucky towel beside me, just in case.

The film starts with a woman trapped in a box and she is screaming.  Eventually, the killer gets to her and drags her to the tub to give her a good drowning.  Luckily, he finds her sexy and she starts making out with him, which gives her the opportunity to stab him in the back of the head, and start drowning him. How do you like it, buddy boy.  Unfortunately, he disappears while she's drowning him and she can't find him.  Maybe, he went down the drain?
  Fast forward to plot B, Madison has just found out that her best friend, Hannah is engaged!  Their other friends, Coby and Lauren are so excited that they run back into the house, screaming like spinster banshees to tell everyone and Hannah brings Madison down to the dock to ask her to be the Maid of Honour.  Sounds like a video game. Anyway, Madison is so thrilled that she agrees and then hangs out at the dock, while her best friend goes back to the party alone.  While on the dock, Madison slips on a empty bottle, bangs her head and slips into the water.  While unconscious, she dreams of a being in a dark, terrifying place with a horrible killer and just as he comes just close enough to grab her..., she is wakes up safe again on the docks with her friends around her.
  Unfortunately, this isn't over yet cuz fast forward again and since the drowning experience Madison has become a basket case.  Presumably, she is seeing this monster from her drowning dream everywhere since the day at the dock and she has come down with some form of aquaphobia.  Lucky for her, her best friend Hannah choosing to do nothing about this until it causes Madison to miss her wedding.  Hannah tells her that she is tired of this mental disorder and Madison is getting help for her tomorrow, the day after the wedding(?). So, Hannah and her friends get a fake, but kind of real psychic to try and prank Madison out of her serious mental condition. Unfortunately, everything goes wrong and the girls soon learn that what Madison is dealing with is real and now they are being hunted down by the same wet blanket maniac.  Can these ladies stop this madmen from making their dreams wet & terrifying or will they fill yet another watery grave for the Drownsman?!?!

 The concept of this film is great and I enjoyed the Kruegerestic/water monster that co-writer/director Chad Archibald (Kill, Neverlost) and co-writer Cody Calahan (Antisocial) have created.  I think if handled well, they could have a character that has the potential for a terrific franchise. The Drownsman is very scary, when used properly.
  Also, the production on this film is pretty good and Archibald uses the shadows and the darkness to his advantages.  Even though I'm sure this film must have budgetary constraints, being a smaller company, it has a good looks and feel to it that is equal too or better than some films that I've seen from larger studios lately.

 However this film isn't squeaky clean and doe have some issues.  For instance, at times I didn't think there was enough depth or back story.  They never did clear up how Sebastian Donner/The Drownsman knew how to travel into the netherworld?  Was it voodoo? Was it an accident?  Nothing can just happen, there needs to be a reason.  Also, why do we never see Hannahs' fiance/husband?  Doesn't he care about his new wife and where she is going and doing?  I guess not, because from what I remember, she doesn't get one phone call and nobody mentions him outside the event at the beginning.  Personally, I think she just made him up and she's probably the bat shit crazy one not Madison.  Finally, why did it take so long for them to confront Madison with this basket case issue?  She suffered a year or like 6 months with it and I guess the Drownsman is one slow dude on tasks because I'm sure he could have gotten around to this a little bit faster.  These characters need depth, they need a background story and there has to be reasons why people do and say things, it can't just be because or you're left with the these one note characters that nobody gives a shit about.
  Also, everything is given to the characters and they don't seem to have to work for it.  This person has information on the Drownsman, he's home and has a box of stuff with all the information they need, or this lady was one of his victim, she's in a mental institution that can be accessed at all hours of the day and is sane enough to give them just the right pertinent information they need.  Stories need some kind of push/pull, I want the characters work for that information!  This is what causes tension, it's ten o'clock, visiting hours are closed, or the tapes the man had on the Drownsman were destroyed by flooding last year!  Give the characters some obstacles, the audience will appreciate it.

 With that said, it's still an aright movie but it could have been a better.  It definitely has some good scares and again the concept is solid but the build up can be frustrating at times.  Eventually though, the story gets into it's groove and there are some good twists and turns of terror.  So check it out and you may never bath again, or even less than you normally do!

The Drownsman will be premiering at the Fantasia International Film Festival on August 2 at 5:15pm in the DB Clarke Theatre (1455 Boulevard de Maisonneuve)

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