Wednesday, June 17, 2015

In short: The Drownsman (2014)

Madison (Michelle Mylett) is suffering from visions of a rather wet looking gentleman (Ry Barrett) trying to drown her. It’s gotten so bad, she has reached a stage of hydrophobia where she even has to take in her fluids intravenously. How she isn’t already in a mental health facility, only the script gods know.

After not appearing for her job as maid of honour for the wedding of her best friend Hannah (Caroline Korycki), Hannah and her other interchangeable girlfriends decide on the most stupid way to put her back on track again: an intervention including a part-time psychic, a staged drowning in a bathtub, and lots of nonsensical talk. This really seems to get the Drownsman going, and now he isn’t only appearing to Madison alone but to her friends also – and where he was only a threatening presence before, he now goes in for the kill.

It is rather difficult for me to take Chad Archibald’s The Drownsman as seriously as it wants to be taken, primarily because large parts of the script are quite so stupid, and the non-supernatural elements of the film do seem more unbelievable than the supernatural ones. So, no, this is not how mental illness works, this is not how interventions work, and this – I hope – is not how friendship works, the film seemingly taking place in bizarro land even without its watery supernatural serial killer. In fact, I had more difficulty suspending my disbelief regarding these supposed real world parts than the Drownsman, a process that wasn’t made any easier by the bland characters. Other horror films just go for clichéd one-note characters, but The Drownsman doesn’t even go this deep, so Maddy and her circle of friends don’t exactly make for riveting victims, or people you want to spend any screen time with.

Having said that, I also have to admit that I still enjoyed parts of the film. Sure, the plot – such as it is - is made out of bits of better movies, with a killer who works as a watery version of a less talkative Freddy Krueger, but its consciously surreal horror movie set pieces are somewhat interesting and even kinda cool, and while the film is pretty dumb, it also isn’t in the habit of dragging its feet and having nothing happen. Sure, I would have loved to see something intelligent  or thematically, or emotionally involving made from The Drownsman’s basics but at least it’s not (too) boring. How’s that for a recommendation?

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