Drownsman, The (2014)

The Drownsman (2014)Starring Michelle Mylett, Caroline Korycki, Gemma Bird Matheson

Directed by Chad Archibald

Distributed by Breakthrough Entertainment

I’ve been in the uncomfortable situation where even so much as the slightest slip in the bathtub has made me scream with enough of a high-pitched female vociferation that I could have rivaled the tones of a “Glee” cast member, but NEVER have I had an unlucky encounter with something along the lines of The Drownsman.

From director Chad Archibald comes a film about what fear can arise from one of Earth’s most essential elements, and what evil presence can make it rise to the surface (sweet association, huh?).

The movie begins with a ferocious opening scene where a trapped female is terrorized by a man who oddly resembles The Riverton Ripper in My Soul to Take, complete with muddy, Predator-esque locks of hair. After a violent struggle in a cruddy bathtub, the damsel-in-distress stabs her attacker repeatedly and apparently submerges him in the murky aqua. Not only a gratuitous piece of violence to open up the movie, but a beacon of hope – could we have a new face of terror among us?

Jump ahead to our female centerpiece: Madison (Mylett), who, after a slip and fall on the docks at her friend’s house, has been left with hydrophobia, a paralyzing fear of the water. It turns out that not just the plunge into the icy-cold lake was the culprit for her new found reverence, but a face-to-face with The Drownsman himself has reduced her to someone who has to resort to intravenous intake just to get her fluids into her body.

As the fear reaches a fever pitch, it causes her to isolate herself from her friends; and at one point her best friend, Hannah (Caroline Korycki), tears into her for missing her wedding and organizes an intervention of sorts with their other friends to rid her of the aversion.

The angle to aid Madison is entirely just that: an angle set up by a bunch of people who apparently think she is just being a big skirt about this whole water fear, but Madison knows different. After a while, The Drownsman begins to appear to all who have assisted in the production, and while some of the dispatchings are of mild visual interest, the movie never quite gets off the ground and loses steam rather quickly, descending into textbook jump-scares and moronic actions, complemented by a “surprise” reveal at the movie’s close.

With the stylistic looks of Saw and The Cell, one would hope for a presence to firmly plant its feet amongst horror’s more iconic trailblazers… alas, the remnants of this film collect every bit of clichéd instances and swirl them down the drain. Perhaps some shrieks could emit from a 17-year-old girls’ sleepover birthday party while eyeballing this, but not here. I think I’d prefer a harrowing stumble in the tub to get my heart racing first… watch ONLY if you refuse to stand up in the shower.

1 1/2 out of 5

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Debi Moore

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