May 6, 2015

VOD Review: The Drownsman (2015)
As lower budget movies go, The Drownsman is a fairly impressive effort; it never really looks cheap, it boasts some fantastic underwater scenes, and visually, it's an entertaining movie.

With that being said, The Drownsman is also a movie that makes very little sense. The mechanics of its own plot, or its rules, if you will, serve as little more than devices which allow for the killer to show up wherever he wants to, whenever he wants to, in order to kill.

So basically, on the surface, this is a good flick. Everything that lies underneath that shiny veneer though, could have really used some work.
The movie opens with a creepy dude trying to drown a hot chick named Isabelle in a bathtub, while whispering her name. She kicks, screams, and tries to escape, but it's no use trying to fight the inevitable... until she gets the idea to makeout with him, which totally throws him off, allowing her to stab him repeatedly, and then drown him. Then, he disappears, and she's all like "What?!?"

Years later, a bunch of girls are at an engagement party, when one of them (Madison) slips on a beer bottle while walking on a pier, and falls into the lake. While unconscious, her mind travels to the Forbidden Zone the dingy dungeon of The Drownsman, where the wet mongoloid of a man tries to drown her while whispering her name too... and then she wakes up on the pier, and is all like "What?!?"

A year later, Madison is now Hydrophobic, and her crippling fear of water has her housebound, refusing to so much as take a sip of water. You see, The Drownsman can appear through any body of water, even a small spill, and since he keeps popping up and wanting to do her harm, she doesn't bathe, she won't go out in the rain, and she even goes so far as to "drink" her water through an IV. Her friends think that she's crazy, so they decide to hold an intervention for her, which involves holding a fake seance over a bathtub, and then holding her under the water, because that's how you cure mental illness.

Of course doing so only serves to invite The Drownsman into all of their lives, and it's not long before he's out to kill them all... via their washing machines, small puddles of water on desks, sinks, and even an elevator that somehow fills up with enough water to drown them... which leaves us saying "What?!?"

Waterlogged terror ensues.

Visually, this movie is really solid. The kill scenes are well done, and the underwater shots were superb. The way that red light was used towards the end was pleasing to our eyes as well (don't ask, its the little things that make us happy.) The Drownsman makes for a pretty creepy killer too, even though we don't really understand the rules of his supernatural shenanigans.

Most of the acting ranged from decent to bad, but the main girls were on the good side of that fence. Michelle Mylett and Caroline Palmer were definitely bright spots, as was Clare Bastable. They had very little to work with script-wise, but they did a great job with what they had.  

As visually pleasing as the movie was, it's really too bad that it didn't make a whole lot of sense.


  • If Madison is so terrified of water that she has to resort to taking fluids intravenously to stay hydrated, then how do you explain her appearance? If she's Hydrophobic, then I'm assuming that she doesn't bathe, and if that's the case, then how does she look so clean and pretty? More importantly, how can anyone stand to be in a room with her? The smell must be terrible after a year of what I'm assuming would be dry baths. 
  • And how does she go to the bathroom? Toilets have water, so does she pee in a cup? Because that's liquid too, and The Drownsman could probably use that to grab her and pull her into a haunted piss world or something. I don't even wanna know how she navigates going #2. 
  • And who pays the bills while she's hiding out in her dry house? Are the girls roommates? None of the chicks do anything in this movie aside from Drownsman-related shit, and I need to know how all of that is possible? The house they're living in looks crazy expensive, and to afford it, they'd all have to be working like crazy.
  • And if she's so deathly afraid of water to the point of sticking an IV in her arm to stay hydrated (and giving her friend's glass of water the evil eye), how could she be talked into getting into a tub full of water, in the space of a few minutes? That's not how extreme phobias work.
  • After missing her best friend's wedding (because she's afraid of rain), her friends all decide to have an intervention for her the next night. Nevermind the fact that most young people, when they get married, go on Honeymoons, because I guess that doesn't fit into the story. On that note, where is the chick's husband? They're newlyweds, and not only is there's no mention of him, but she's spending all of her time running around with her crazy friend trying to cure her crippling fear of water... which is absolutely not what newlyweds do.
  • I'm sure that the movie's many shots of water in bowls, in cups, or even dripping from a faucet, are all meant to be foreboding and intense, but they're not . By the time three of the girls are in an elevator, and they recoil when a nurse takes a sip from her water bottle, I just said screw it, and assumed that they were playing this one for laughs.
  • And where did the water in the elevator come from?
  • Is it really that easy for anyone to get into an insane asylum to see a patient that they don't know? "Oh sure, come on in. The woman in the padded cell would love a visit from some random strangers!" Right.
  • Twist #1: Her mother? Since we know absolutely NOTHING about Madison, her life, or her family at all, is that big reveal supposed to mean something to us?
  • Twist #2: Of course she's The Drownsman's daughter. Why wouldn't she be?
  • Twist #3: And what was with the ending? The final twist didn't even make any sense.

There's a solid story here, but so much of it doesn't play by its own rules, that it was hard for us to stay invested in it.

If you're going to try to re-create A Nightmare on Elm Street for the new age, which this movie is clearly trying to do, you have to remember that in addition to a great villain and some awesome kill scenes, there needs to be a solid story holding those visceral elements together. Whether or not we believed that Wes Craven's story for ANOES could ever happen or not, it was at least plausible in the world that the movie took place in. Too much of what happens in The Drownsman felt like it was forced, and it killed any notion of realism that the already far-fetched premise would have to forgo to be able to exist at all.

A Nightmare on Elms Street may have made us afraid to go to sleep, but we won't be skipping any showers due to The Drownsman.

It might sound like we hated The Drownsman, but we really didn't. Yes, we were critical of it's stupidity and lack of sense, and rightfully so, but there's enough good stuff going on here that we're at least glad that we watched it. Less particular Horror fans will probably love the hi-jinks that this movie has to offer, and as long as they just take everything at face value, and don't dig too far beneath its pleasing surface for a plot that makes any sense, all will be well.


The Drownsman is available now on VOD, and will hit Blu-ray & DVD on May 12th.
Hot chicks abound in this movie, and I swear that Michelle Mylett looks like she could be one of the Panabaker sisters.

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