Saturday, October 13, 2018

What the Waters Left Behind Borrows from the Best: A Film Review

*full disclosure: this reviewer has promoted this film through online marketing, previously.

Directors/writers: Luciano Onetti, Nicolás Onetti.

Cast: German Baudino, Paula Brasca, Mirta Busnelli, Victorio D'Alessandro and Victoria Maurette.

What the Waters Left Behind is a slasher film, from the Onetti brothers (Luciano, Nicolas). Known as Los Olvidados (The Forgotten) in Argentina, this title lifts the story of Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) for a South American audience. Though, horror fans in North America will be able to see What the Waters Left Behind, on Amazon Prime, this month (Oct. 26th). This release is full of horror tropes. From a freaky gas station to a cannibal family, you have likely seen this film before. Still, the Onetti brothers have chosen a few interesting locations, including an entire destroyed city. And, the filmmakers admit that they have been influenced by American cinema, including Hooper's earlier effort. What the Waters Left Behind is a bit unoriginal, but this title brings enough horror to the screen for an exciting watch.

The film begins and ends with horror tropes. In the opening scene, a nearly naked young woman is chased by an off-screen villain. A number of horror movies have opened this way. In the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there is a similar scene, where a woman is chased by a crazy-with-a-chainsaw. This trope is followed by another with a group of partiers on a road trip, to some remote town. In The Blackburn Asylum (2015), everyone is also out on a camping trip, similar to this film and hundreds of others. There is also the prerequisite sketch gas station, here. From William Dear's Simon Says (2006) to Night of Something Strange (2015), there is almost always a disturbing fill-up station to visit (before dying), in horro. These locations often serve as a reminder that the characters are leaving civilization (urban) for the rural. Horror usually happens on the border of nature and civilization. What the Waters Left Behind follows a horror formula and rarely steps outside a connect-the-dots series of tropes.

And, the story introduces another cliche. Several characters are set to visit a remote location, to shoot a documentary. The characters have brought Carla (Victoria Maurette) back to her hometown, Epecuen. Here, Carla relives some of the horrifying moments, when her town was flooded. She lost several brothers, but hopes to make new friends, through the filmmaking process and inevitable cannibal dinner. At Epecuen, there is another, minor character - searching for a lost family member. He teams up with these documentarians, when the villains appear. From here on out, everything takes place in a matadero, or slaughterhouse. These later sights cannot be unseen.

Luciano and Nicolas Onetti have scouted a proper location, for What the Waters Left Behind. This real life location, which was destroyed by flooding, looks truly apocalyptic. The brothers utilize a drone, to show the audience the true devastation. The Onettis also show a picturesque sunset, just before the action reaches its climax. Late scenes, inside the slaughterhouse, look just as impressive and terrifying. These later scenes look shot in a scarehouse or haunted house ride. The walls drip blood and so do many of the characters. This film shows a number of interesting sets and locations, which are often eye-poppingly good.

Still, this title is very much a remake of Hooper's early work, on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The brothers even admit their influences in an early interview: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [is] one of our favorite films, the original...we went for the slasher (Cinefania)." Including the scenes mentioned above, this title incorporates a looming freak. He does not wear a flesh mask, like Leatherface. Nonetheless, he is a mute character, with a large weapon. As well, all of the villains are cannibals, ready to eat their new guests. It is just too bad that this interpretation did not include a grandpa, for the final course. The Onetti brothers have not really improved on this earlier material, outside of some of the locations. So, What the Waters Left Behind does not have as many surprises as it could.

What the Waters Left Behind is slated for a Digital release, this October 26th, on Amazon Prime. Fans of foreign horror can take a look at the Onetti brothers' latest, after the success of mystery thriller Francesca (2015). Very much influenced and some could say stolen from Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, What the Waters Left Behind brings cannibal horror to a new audience. Though full of tropes, What the Waters Left Behind brings a lot of true horror, in the film's final minutes. There is no softening of the on-screen violence, here. As well, this title utilizes its exterior and interior sets, or locations to visually amaze. Not easily forgotten, What the Waters Left Behind brings an Argentinian flavour to the slasher genre, which will satisfy many horror fans' bloodlust.

Overall: 7 out of 10.

*the villa of Epecuen was flooded by 33' of water, after a freak rainstorm and the destruction of a dam.

An interview with the Onetti brothes at Cinefania: Luciano and Nicolas Onetti on What the Waters Left Behind

A Homepage for the Film: What the Waters Left Behind at Black Mandala

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