Robert’s Review: Freshwater (2016)

★ out of ★★★★★

Sorry, Zoë.

I’m a sucker for a creature feature.  Add Zoë Bell (Xena: Warrior Princess, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2, Grindhouse), stuntwoman extraordinaire, into the mix with a giant alligator and it should be a slam dunk! That’s probably what writer/director Brandeis Berry was thinking, too. “Hey,” Brandeis probably said. “I’ve got Zoë Bell and that guy from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. This’ll be a slam dunk!” Sadly, though…

Zoë Bell and Joe Lando did their best. Most of the actors did, in fact. I’ve seen worse. Much worse. But you can’t make a silk purse of a sow’s ear. You just end up with a weird lookin’ purse and a really angry pig.

The story goes something like this: A bunch of 20-something-young-and-pretties plan a gathering at a lake house for some good ol’ fashioned pre-getting-eaten partying. One of their pals jumps the gun on the getting eaten part and the group’s weekend just goes downhill from there. Enter Brenda Gray (Zoë Bell), the local gator expert. She teams up with Sheriff Jones (Joe Lando) and the two of them swing into very scientific investigation mode! Suspect numero uno? The giant and not at all shy albino alligator. But, could there be something else at work, too?

The two big problems for me were editing and visual effects. And the soundtrack. Okay, the three big problems for me were editing, effects, and the soundtrack. And pacing. Fine, the four big problems… well, you get the idea. Obviously, in a creature feature, visual effects are your bread and butter. And, sadly, the bread and butter in this movie made for one laughable sandwich. I’ve seen smartphone apps that could superimpose digital effects more convincingly. Made me feel bad for the monster. Poor fella.

With the editing, it was just a bit… wonky. People standing still for just a beat too long at the start of a scene, for example. It makes everyone seem a bit unnatural and awkward. And the movie’s editing woes gave some scenes a really odd sense of timing. For example, the scene where a lady’s playing fetch with her dog, Fluffy. Oddly cut and oddly timed with weird shots of a dog standing alone in the weeds… If you haven’t seen the movie and you’re kinda confused trying to picture what I just said in your head, that’s pretty much what it feels like watching the scene, too.

Add in the plinky-plonky piano music soundtrack, stir in the overall anemic pacing, season things with a pretty kooky plot twist, and you’ve got yourself one sad alligator stew.

I was really hoping I’d like this one, but I just couldn’t. I’m sorry, Zoë.

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