"The Drownsman" Sinks Below The Water Line Review

I can't stress how bad of an idea I think this is.

Some horror is allegorical first and scary second, some horror scary first and allegorical maybe, some horror isn't even scary. In the low-budget arena, horror is more likely an excuse for young filmmaking dudes to get women to take their clothes off for them and any meaning they can muster is in aide of convincing these ladies during the casting session. The Drownsman (2014) is surprisingly not in this latter category. With an all-female cast of victims and a risqué cover that invokes both A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and bathtub horseplay, one might wrongly expect some exploitation. This is probably the last all-positive thing I have to say about The Drownsman as most everything else suffers from its makers willing surrender to tropes and the superficial sophistication modern technology allows for.

Sebastian (Ry Barrett) likes to drown people either to death or to distress. One day, he gets a bit too caught up in a sexy drowning and gets himself stabbed to death. Some years later, Madison (Michelle Mylett) has a brief drowning spell and is teleported...as though in a nightmare...to a creepy basement with a super creepy Sebastian-cum-water-demon, The Drownsman (like adding the word "man" to a word makes it an acceptable noun), jumping out at her from the shadows. When she is revived, she comes back as a haunted person, spending the rest of the year absolutely mortified of even the smallest dribble of water. You can't blame her since every spill provides an opportunity for the creature from the black bathtub to spook the hell out of her. Things get so bad, she's hydrating from an IV. When Madison misses her maid of honor duties--the last fucking straw!--the utterly insensitive bride Hannah (Caroline Palmer) organizes an intervention to smack some sense into Madison with tough love and a fake seance with three other female friends whose names are unimportant. But wouldn't you know it, this bullshit brings the sloppy spirit into all of their lives threatening to pull them into any puddle to their death! Don't even go near the water!

Things got a little carried away there because this story is just as asinine as all the other so-called classics and borrows heavily from many. Haphazard mythologies, Herculean stupidity on the part of early victims, a lot of things jumping out from behind other things, and female (albeit minimal) sensuality. The Drownsman adds a character who is so insensitive to her best friends mental illness, that completely obliterates any light being shed on the subject. So, we're left with the scares and the special effects which are, admittedly, pretty sound. The Drownsman's cinematography, however, is somewhere between a tv-movie and a well-shot feature film. Being between two worlds keeps it from the gritty effectiveness of its forebears and the slick power of modern exemplars. Bottom line: good work for dubious ends.

One final note. When did "ou" become "oo" for Canadians? It seems so strange that the American and Canadian accents are identical but for this single vowel sound.


There are no bonus features.

"The Drownsman" is on sale May 12, 2015 and is not rated. Horror. Directed by Chad Archibald. Written by Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan. Starring Caroline Palmer.

Jason Ratigan • Staff Writer

A lawyer-turned-something-else with a strong appreciation for film and television.  He knows he can't read every great book ever written, but seeing every good movie ever made is absolutely doable.  Check out his other stuff on Wordpress.


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