Film Review: The Outwaters – 5/10

‘My head is raining…’

Skinamarink is the most frightened I have ever been watching a horror film. To the extent that it actually brought some childhood trauma screaming back to the surface that I had long since repressed. The reason I mention it here is because it is a divisive film. If you don’t buy into the premise and the unique filming style within the first 15 minutes, you’re not going to get much out of it. I feel like The Outwaters is the same. As with Skinamarink, it has a grainy, found footage style, it deliberately obscures what the viewer can see and takes place in some kind of nightmarish neverland between day and night. And yet, this film did very little for me…

A group of four friends take to the Mojave desert to film a music video. Upon arrival, things soon take a turn for the bizarre. That’s the whole plot. And if you’re thinking that’s not enough to fill 110 minutes of running time, you’re absolutely correct.

Writer-director Robbie Banfitch (who also stars) clearly has an eye for horror. There are deeply unsettling moments here that recall Skinamarink at its most upsetting. The problem is that those moments are few and far between and the rest of the movie is pretty tedious. Whilst the sound design is excellent throughout, asking the viewer to commit to a film that has no discernable plot for such a long period of time feels like a thankless task for all involved. And so it proves. Far too much of this film feels like padding.

The Outwaters aims to take the work of Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson and make it more visceral, more impactful. Unfortunately, Banfitch never really succeeds in this brief. A missed opportunity.