I love horror films that introduce unique villains, especially those who are original enough to become genre icons in their own right (for example, Jason, Michael Myers, Freddy, Jigsaw, etc.) The films that birth these characters are usually labors of love and not just someone’s attempt to make a quick buck. THE DROWNSMAN is one such title, an impressive attempt at adding to the prestigious list of iconic horror figures. And although it has a few flaws, the film is a lot of fun and I recommend giving it a look.
If you are not familiar with THE DROWNSMAN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay:
After almost drowning in a lake accident, Madison (Michelle Mylett, Antisocial) develops hydrophobia: an abnormal fear of water. After shutting the world and her friends out for over a year, her friends attempt an intervention. But, instead of curbing Madison’s fear, they unknowingly unleash something far worse: The vision of serial killer turned supernatural psychopath Sebastian Donner known as The Drownsman who begins to stalk the women one by one, dragging them into a lair of submerged torment from which there is no escape.
I love the concept of the killer and his unique way of dispatching victims; drowning has to be one of the worst ways to die, and using it as the primary way of a killer dispatching his victims is very clever. This is especially true when combined with the supernatural elements the killer invokes.
THE DROWNSMAN is shot very well and looks great onscreen. The film was shot using a RED camera, so the picture quality is excellent. Likewise, the ambient sounds are crystal clear in surround-sound, and lend a huge hand in building suspense for the film.
The acting in THE DROWNSMAN is pretty good, although a couple of the actresses are a bit lackluster in their deliveries. Michelle Mylett, who plays the lead, Madison, does a great job and exhibits a wide range of emotional diversity in the film. Ry Barrett, who portrays The Drownsman himself, is a solid and foreboding figure. His silent but menacing performance injects a nice shot of terror into the film.
But there are a couple of negatives about the THE DROWNSMAN as well. For one, we are never told how he pulls his disappearing act in the opening scenes, nor are we ever told why or how he has supernatural powers. There’s not even any speculation as to how this happened. Another example is how Sebastian is supposedly defeated: with fire. Really? I thought water doused fire, therefore how could a supernatural entity like The Drownsman be terrified of it? And if it pertains to his backstory, shouldn’t we be told about that?
Still, with these minor issues aside, THE DROWNSMAN is a heck of a film, and it highlights the talent of director Chad Archibald. Given the way the movie ends, I sure hope there is a sequel in the works, and I hope it answers the questions above. If that is the case, THE DROWNSMAN will move up several notches in my book. I recommend giving this one a look, if anything to check out a new and original horror figure. The film is available next week in a variety of formats, so make a note.