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THE WATERMEN
DVD. Chelsea Films.

The WatermenThe 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.

The WatermenHis 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 inept.

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.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK)

 

 

 

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