Actors: Caroline Palmer, Clare Bastable, Gemma Bird Matheson, Michelle Mylett, Ry Barrett
Director: Chad Archibald
Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Run Time: 86 minutes
For an entertaining horror film, you need a clever concept and creative execution. While The Drownsman seems born out of a unique idea, the way in which the plot unfolds is never convincing due to the filmmaker’s inability to think through the various elements. The end result feels like an uneven collection of contrived moments borrowed from better films, along with generic performances from the bevy of attractive and unconvincing co-ed cast members. All of this would make little difference if the horror aspects of the film worked, but rules change from scene to scene and the film is as void of logic as it is decent supporting cast members.
A horror movie can stretch the limits of believability, just so long as it obeys its own established rules. This allows us to believe that Freddy Krueger can kill within a dream, or that death can seek justice in the Final Destination films, both franchises that The Drownsman appears to be borrowing liberally from. The problem with this newly invented water-based killer is the lack of consistency within the established rules of the horror film. It changes from sequence to sequence, depending on what the scene appears to need in order to keep the suspense going, and yet somehow the film still ends up feeling one-note for the entire 86-minute running time.
Beginning with a somewhat comical accident which results in the near drowning of our protagonist, Madison (Michelle Mylett), the film jumps ahead in time to show us that this incident has left her with a crippling paranoia that something will kill her if she uses water. This irrational fear prevents
from attending the wedding of her
best friend when a sudden downpour occurs, but the phobia is made even more
unbelievable by her refusal to clean herself or even drink water. Her spotless
appearance is only briefly addressed, as is her reliance on staying alive
through artificial hydration by way of intravenous therapy. Less explained are
the rules which allow the supernatural water-dwelling killer to make fluids a
threat in the first place. Madison
At first we are simply led to believe that water works as a portal of sorts, allowing the grotesque looking man known as ‘The Drownsman’ to pull unsuspecting girls into his underworld lair of torture. This provides very simple and established rules which require the complete avoidance of water, a task difficult enough that they could have creatively used it throughout the full running time. Instead, halfway through the movie this is abandoned for a silly switch that allows ‘The Drownsman’ to create water where there should be none. An elevator ride becomes a contrived sequence of dread that makes little sense when water appears out of nowhere to flood the cramped quarters. If the villain is capable of doing this, can’t he simply create water wherever the girls are? You might as well give Freddy Krueger the ability to make his victims fall asleep.
There is also little logic used when trying to dispatch the monster. First attempts at striking back involve fire as the sole weapon. Though water may be an option for destroying a fire monster, I can’t quite understand the logic of the reversal. Yet, even with the ever-changing rules and illogical twists of the narrative, The Drownsman is often still terribly dull due to the interchangeable cast of female characters and less than stellar performances from the actresses cast in the roles. Aspects of the film such as the high definition digital cinematography are occasionally pleasing, though there are just as many technical flaws to destroy any strengths in filmmaking. For one thing, the sound levels are off near the end of the film, so that the screams of terror blow out the speakers with horrendous distortion. Worse than being bad filmmaking, this is unforgivably bad for my sound system.
Entertainment Value: 2.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3/10
Historical Significance: 1/10
Special Features: 0/10