What In Gods Name Is Happening?
The newest horror sensation, The Outwaters, recently landed on VOD after creating a huge buzz in theaters due to its unique film style that reimagines the found footage concept. Reports have stated that the film has been having a pretty strong reaction from viewers as well. Just like at screenings of Terrifier 2, viewers have reported having difficulty finishing the film. They reported nausea and vomiting and have outright left the screening as they had a hard time finishing. Typically, when news of such strong reactions emerges for a film in the horror community, this would be enough to dare the most hardcore fans to see if they can handle the challenge. It’s no wonder why this film has become as infamous as it has. However, with these reactions in mind, does it mean that the movie is worth the money?
A Breakthrough In The Norm?
The Outwaters follows a group of four friends as they venture into the Mojave Desert to film a music video. The landscape is beautiful and full of color and vibrancy, making it a perfect location for a song. But things don’t go as planned when the four of them start hearing loud animal noises in the night and the booming sound of thunder, all of which seem to get startlingly close, yet there is nothing visible. When things go bump in the night, it’s always best to leave. The group finds themselves too late, though, as they are soon beset by phenomena they can’t even begin to understand.
This description alone has every ingredient needed for a chilling found-footage horror. Things starts slow, played through three discovered SD cards. In their viewing, one would believe that the movie takes its time to get to the rising tension as a lot of time is spent with the characters before anything happens. The first inkling of strange occurrences doesn’t start until halfway through the second card. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because a lot of films do this. It’s a good way to build the characters and develop side plots to be paid off later, the only one being the death of the character Angela’s mother and its effect on her. However, viewers don’t need to worry too much about this because it’s quickly thrown out the window by a shocking gruesome attack in the middle of the night, scattering everyone. By this point, the film only sticks with the person holding the camera, with everyone else running around screaming and nowhere to be seen.
If one has the patience to wait to get to this point, one’ll find that the buildup in tension is adequate, with this moment coming out of nowhere. It’s a shame that this is also the turning point at which The Outwaters takes a nosedive. In any other movie, the following 30 minutes would be a chilling, pulse-pounding ride. The reason it isn’t is that barely any of it is visible. The point is to scare viewers with uncertainty, but the ruffling noises and distant screams in pitch darkness only serve to be irritating.
When daylight comes, things are seen that would enhance the story, making one frightened of the things occurring at night. Unfortunately, proceeding events are only a shuffled nightmare of incoherence. The movie tries to sprinkle in various nuggets as to what is going on and pays off none of it and fails to make a solid decision on the kind of movie it is. The story goes in so many directions in the darkness that by the end, all impact, tension, and character development are destroyed, making for a meaningless, emotionless conclusion that is nothing short of frustrating.
Do The Characters Save The Films?
In the over an hour the movie spends getting to know the characters, viewers receive enough to care for them and their well-being. Robbie and Scott Zagorac (Robbie Banfitch and Scott Schamel) have a strong bond as brothers, and they have a strong bond with their mother, who they see in the first 20 minutes or so. Angela Bocuzzi (Angela Basolis) has a great singing voice and a promising music career ahead of her and feels her mother’s loving presence with her always, having passed away sometime prior. Michelle (Michelle August) is happily married and can’t wait to get home to her husband. There is plenty enough reason to love these characters. It’s just a shame that three of the four are abandoned unceremoniously in a sea of absurdity. The acting isn’t bad, though. The cast is decent, and they portray utter terror incredibly well. It’s a real shame they didn’t all get the chance to shine in the film’s most important sequence, not that it would have been seen anyway.
Is The Outwaters At Least Scary?
Maybe, just maybe, some viewers can get into the style of the film enough to follow it well. If they can, they may find the disorientating shaky camera work bearable to be able to understand what is happening. And if they are okay with seeing the most important sequences by only the smallest dot of light, they may be traumatized by the things they see. If not, even if the viewer is the most diehard found footage fan, they are going to have an incredibly hard time following this movie. There is no shortage of scary imagery and gore to be had. It’s just so lost in the literal shuffling of things and the lack of explanation that it loses all effect.
For anyone going into The Outwaters, do so with an open mind. Do so with respect for what Robbie Banfitch attempts to do. Do so and watch as if watching a work of art be painted and try to leave it with respect for the effort of innovation that the cast and crew tried to put to screen. Understand that opinions on this film are polarizing and know that not everyone is going to enjoy it. This movie was an attempt at a concept that ultimately failed to achieve the effect that it was going for. But out of respect for what it is trying to achieve, perhaps one should see for themselves. If for no other reason than to be a part of the conversation, they should at least try.
The Outwaters (2023) Official Cinedigm Trailer
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|Senior editor of Dead Talk News and University of Central Oklahoma graduate. Dakota specializes in news, entertainment pieces, reviews, and listicles.|