Review by Dan Skip Allen
Experimental films aren't anything new to audiences. People have been making them for decades now. Just last month, an experimental film called Skinamarink was released to a huge success in America. The Outwaters is another such film from writer/director Robbie Banfitch, who also stars in the film.
Two brothers, Robbie and Scott, and their sister Leslie, travel to the Mojave Desert to film a music video of their friend when something unbelievable happens to them. What we are watching is a camera video of them documenting their trip and experience before, during, and after the event. The police use the SD cards of the camera to show what happens to these four people.
All the cast play versions of themselves, so in a way, this film is semi-autobiographical. It's like they are experiencing these events in real-time. How we see the film is mostly through a flashlight or the camera lens, which is very small and doesn't show a lot. It kind of has a claustrophobic feel while watching in that way. The way the movie is being filmed gives it a suspenseful real-life aspect. It's like a film within a film.
The film also uses various sound effects to create a sense of dread, like thunder or bombs and bullets flying around. But the four people don't know what direction they are coming from, because they can't see anything because it's so dark out. During the day, they are fine filming the scenes they need for the music video. It's at night that the dread sinks in for this quartet of young people. That's not a good thing.
Screams from characters and blood on the hand of one of the four also show that something is out there in the desert, and a barely visible being on a hill in the distance is just enough to show the audience that something sinister is going on here. As a fan of horror, these types of techniques are exactly what the doctor ordered to show people the film means business regarding the scare factor.
The acting of the four family members and friends is outstanding. Their screams and the dialogue of "don't leave me," or "I'm okay," by multiple members of the four were frightening, to say the least. Bloody limbs and panting are enough for the audience to be genuinely concerned about what is going on on screen. Voicemails from their mother don't help at all either. They ramp up the concern for us watching the film.
The Outwaters leaves viewers scared out of their minds and genuinely frightened for their lives. This film goes to places I have never seen horror films go in my lifetime. I've been watching movies for a long time, and this is one of the most original films I've ever seen. It builds up the story and characters just enough for the viewer to care about them, and then pulls the rug out from under them with the story. It's a crazy story that is only believable to those who watch it — and even that is asking a lot. The horror renaissance continues to amaze me each and every day I see another bat-shit-crazy film like this one.
The Outwaters hits theaters on February 10.