The Watermen (2011)
(18) Running time: 89 minutes
Director: Matt L. Lockhart
Writer: Matt L. Lockhart
Starring: Jason Mewes, Richard Riehle, Floyd Abel
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
The Watermen comes from first time director Matt L. Lockhart, and on the evidence of this, we have a new and interesting horror talent on our hands. I am not saying The Watermen is the best horror of the year, Hell, it won’t even be the best horror of the week, but there are moments here which hint at bigger and better things to come from Lockhart. Granted he follows pretty much every rule of horror here, and doesn’t really bring anything new, but what he does offer up is an interesting spin on the backwoods, cannibalistic horror. Think The Hills Have Eyes on water, and you’re pretty much there.
The film opens in fine style, and shows us exactly the kind of film we are about to watch. The usual, sexy blonde is running through the woods being chased by a bunch of creepy, beardy fishermen who don’t appear to be able to speak English. Like in the Hills Have Eyes, they seem to have their own language, although throughout parts of the film they manage to speak English, go figure. Anyway, she is hunted with a bouncy, frantic camera following her, and it looks like her vest is hanging down and showing some breast, but is it? A terrific shot of the sexy girl as she looks over her shoulder reveals that yes, her vest does appear to be broken, and we get a full glimpse of her assets. However, as she continues to run through the water and the trees, one moment her vest is broke, the next perfectly intact. This gives a good indication that the ladies are here for eye candy, and once you meet the guys you will wonder what exactly they are here for.
We meet out ‘victims’ soon after as Trailor (Jason Mewes) hosts a small party for a group of sexy girls on the eve of a big fishing trip with some friends. Trailor is a millionaire and has hired a boat. We then meet two of the male friends as they are out on their own boat, discussing a boring troubled past and then one of them gets annoyed at his friend flicking his cigarette into the sea. He explains how rubbish thrown into the sea is killing the fish, and subsequently destroying the incomes of the local fishermen, or Watermen. This leads us to believe the Watermen have every right to be annoyed, but it would seem they have their own plans to improve business, chop up youngsters and use their body parts as bait. Excellent, and you should be able to guess where the film goes from there.
The group of friends stop off at a local fishing village for supplies and fuel, and as all the locals give each other nods of agreement, the friends head off and we know something will go wrong. After fishing, drinking and spying on their female friends getting undressed, you will desperately want to hate this group of friends, but somehow it is very difficult. They don’t really do anything, but then don’t really do anything wrong. The director clearly knows what fans of this type of film want, and grants us a number of scenes of the girls topless, rubbing lotion on each other, or simply running the camera up and down as one showers. Naturally though, things do go wrong as the boat stops working, and The Watermen are on hand to save the day. Offering water to the group who act as if they haven’t had a drink in weeks, they are drugged and taken captive, and now the fun really begins.
Lockhart builds the tension nicely with some high quality production, great use of music and a good use of camera work. The cast may not be the best actors you will ever see in a horror, but are certainly not the worst, and they do manage to have you routing for them as The Watermen begin their onslaught of torture and murder. There is slicing, stabbings, punch ups, spades driven into the mouth, pitchforks thrown, meat hooks used and even heads put in water filled with eels. If you like your backwoods type of horror, The Watermen has it all, and the villains themselves, even though a bit stupid and annoying at times, are delightfully creepy. There is also a strong sexual element to the violence towards the women, with a brief rape and tons of clothes being removed and wandering hands, so again, if this is your thing then there is plenty here for you. The violence is often quite brutal, and there are moments where you really have no idea what will happen next.
The Watermen is a good, simple horror that isn’t attempting anything above and beyond its expectations. It moves along at a good pace, serves up everything you would want from a film of this calibre, and pretty much ticks all the right boxes. Not a bad first attempt, not bad at all.