DVD. Chelsea Films.
Watermen opens up with what we might kindly call a pastiche
or, or tribute to, Seventies exploitation: distressed girl in
cut off-denim shorts and wearing a T-shirt conveniently ripped
open to expose one breast (apart from in the long shots of her
running, where it seems to have been miraculously and temporarily
repaired) is hunted down and speared by a bunch of unsavoury looking
inbreds. It’s a solid enough start – hardly original
and entirely gratuitous, but neither of those things are exactly
a deal-breaker for the hardened sleaze cinema fan.
But it goes immediately downhill after this. We’re introduced
to a bunch of god-awful actors playing even more god-awful characters.
How bad? They are headed by Jason Mewes. And any film in which
Mewes is not being paired with Silent Bob (and quite a few of
those where he is) really need to be avoided. This is a man with
one single character – presumably himself –, which
he has played for almost twenty years. So see him waving his balls
about on a webcam or peeping at girls getting undressed –
both scenes from this film – is pretty depressing when you
realise he’s nearly forty.
Here, he plays some rich ‘kid’ who takes off on a
boat cruise with a bunch of jocks and sluts (sorry, but that’s
the only characterisation that these people have), where they
dick around with crab pots and piss off local fishermen and the
viewer with their asshole antics. When they suffer a mechanical
failure, they are seemingly rescued by a fishing boat, but instead
given drugged water to drink and then taken back to port to be
tortured, raped and sliced up as bait.
Writer/director/producer/person-entirely-to-blame Matt L Lockhart
has clearly seen enough horror films to get the basic visual language
more or less right, but his film is so out of touch with his intended
audience that you wonder just how much he actually likes the genre.
Horror films work when the audience has either characters who
they can empathise with and root for, or when they show bad things
happening to bad people. While The Watermen touches
on the latter, it’s a purely accidental move – it’s
clear that Lockhart thinks his characters are the sort of people
we’ll like and admire, and want to see triumph over the
bad guys. I suggest he actually visits a few horror film festivals
and talks to genre fans before he makes another film if he thinks
these obnoxious, facile assholes are in any way relatable.
bad guys are a hackneyed collection of clichés, straight
out of any backwoods horror film you’d care to name. Their
mumbled language might be a neat touch – but as incoherent
mumbling seems to be spread throughout the cast, it’s possible
entirely accidental. And for a group of psycho murderers, they
seem pretty useless – the confrontation scenes are laughably
The Watermen certainly has plenty of graphic
gore, nastiness and laughably gratuitous nudity, and you’d
think that would at least make it bearable. But no. The women
in the cast are so revoltingly vacuous and oddly unattractive
that no amount of contrived fake-boob exposure can make them appealing,
and the gore is too badly filmed to have any impact.
If The Waterman shows anything, it’s that
an effective horror movie – or an effective exploitation
movie – is more than simply the sum of its parts. You could
arguably take moments from this film and make it look impressively
brutal (I haven’t watched the trailer so I can’t say
how effective it is), but that would be entirely misleading. This
is terrible, terrible stuff, with nothing that you can’t
find handled more efficiently elsewhere and with characters who’ll
make a rusty spoon lobotomy sound like a pleasant proposition.
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