Review: The Watermen (15) / Director: Matt L. Lockhart / Screenplay: Matt L. Lockhart / Starring: Jason Mewes, Luke Guldan, Tyler Johnson / Release date: Feb 27th
Considering the salty sea dogs I have come across in dingy corners of our shorelines, it’s a mystery why more horror films are not set at sea or at least in eerie fishing villages. The Watermen tries to transpose the backwoods, inbred maniac sub-genre from the countryside out to sea and this idea should work like a charm. Except if you are writer, director and producer Matt Lockhart and don’t actually have any talent to speak of then the brilliance of a premise will elude you completely.
Our film begins with a half-naked young woman running for her life from what looks like Rob Zombie in waders. She conveniently falls over every five minutes and lets her barely-there top fall down to expose her breasts. At this point I thought we were in for a Scary Movie style spoof but sadly when the psycho fishermen start speaking their own bizarre lingo, I realised this was serious business.
After this prologue we meet our main idiots, sorry, characters. Trailer (Jason Mewes being himself) is a trust fund millionaire with a trio of gold diggers in bikinis who hang around and conveniently kiss each other or admire one another’s breast implants. Trailer is taking a yacht out to sea with his two other friends who have some tenuous connection with the coast guard but now just get stoned, flex their muscles and do some fishing. After purchasing some alarming looking bait from a swarthy seaman at the bait store, our fools head out to sea. After what seems like an endless series of helicopter shots either of the boat or the sea (ooh look how big it is!) the engine packs up and the party is over. Five minutes go by without power. The gold diggers freak out and so does the millionaire, there is a fistfight and then a rusty looking fisherman’s boat shows up. The dead meat perks up and craves water, but the fishermen on the other boat have drugged it and next thing we know one of them wakes up tied to a table and witnesses a fisherman’s behind, waders round his ankles as he thrusts into one of her comatose friends. So the next half hour or so is taken up with the usual rape and torture that too often constitutes a horror film these days - it's redundant and devoid of any dramatic or narrative tension.
Things get lively again when the stoner twins wake up and we get some frankly bizarre slow motion fight scenes between them and the fishermen which belong in an early 90s action film. One of them even takes a gunshot in the stomach and recovers remarkably well. The whole thing ends explosively and on a weird geographical note that makes me question if Matt Lockhart actually understands how the ocean works at all.
The first half of The Watermen was constantly threatening to be one of those 'so bad it's good' type films. The acting is on the level of a high gloss porno and for some reason even whilst out at sea the camera never stays still giving you a feeling of seasickness - boom, realism! If they had just gone for out and out cheese this could have been fun but they seem to be really trying to make some kind of point about the cruel sea and the plight of overfishing at times and this combined with the gratuitous unpleasantness means that the second half of the film is a chore to sit through. The character development is also non-existent. Jason Mewes plays a millionaire who we know is a millionaire because one of the bikini bimbos says he is on his cell phone all the time.
The actual motive of these savage fishermen is also a mystery. They are not far out enough to be really backwards and for some reason they kill people to chop them up and sell them as bait. You would think someone would notice because it’s not like our heroes drive a long way to get to their bait store, it’s just down the road.
With more talent and inventiveness this could have actually worked, as it stands The Watermen is a damp squib of a film that deserves to sink without a trace.