⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ An experimental, kaleidoscope of shaky-cam weirdness. Lovers of slow burning, stream of consciousness film making, this one’s for you!
Written/Directed by Robbie Banfitch
Brothers Robbie & Scott Zagorac [played by director Robbie Banfitch and first-timer Scott Schamell] head out into the Mojave Desert with their girlfriends, Ange and Michelle. Ange [Angela Basolis in her debut film] is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter looking to make a music video with the stark beauty of the desert as a backdrop. Michelle [Michelle May; Bikini Model Academy (2015)] comes along to enjoy the weekend and help with Ange’s make-up.
As the weekend wears on, the group of friends experience more and more strange phenomenon: odd noises, weird lights, and all around creepiness. Culminating in a gore-soaked fever dream of a third act.
Production quality of The Outwaters is top notch. The cinematography — handled by the director, Robbie Banfitch — puts the lonely landscape of the Mojave Desert to excellent use and gives a beautiful sense of isolation to the film. And the sound design — also taken care of by the multi-talented Mr. Banfitch — is perfect. It’s easy for outdoor shots to suffer sound-wise, but there’s none of that evident here.
While the overall acting and dialog feel extremely natural, it’s almost too natural at times. Seemingly unscripted, though that’s just a guess, the movie gets bogged down in its own effort to casually flesh out the relationships between its characters. This slice-of-life style of storytelling does lend itself well to a slow-burning plotline, but the meandering nature of real life conversations can drag out the pacing.
Once the madness sets in, however, The Outwaters treats you to a thoroughly disorienting barrage of handheld cameras, waving flashlights, odd filming angles, and disturbing gore.
Full disclosure, as you can probably tell by the rating, this type of movie is not my cup of tea. I found the first two acts to be very slow moving and the third act to be frustratingly abstract. However! For fans of the first-person-“devolving sanity” point of view (a la H.P. Lovecraft) and experimental films in general, this movie is definitely something to be experienced. There’s a lot to unpack after watching this movie!
The Outwaters will open in select theaters beginning February 9 from Cinedigm and Bloody Disgusting. Following its run on the big screen, it will stream exclusively on Screambox.