Backwater (from Osiris Entertainment) starts off like the majority of low budget horror films. It’s the same tired redundant story line that is the equivalent to filling out a page of Mad Libs.
________ and ________ decides to spend a weekend in ________. They think they are alone until they hear a ________ coming from the ________. Fill in the names, fill in the destination, fill in the noise, etc..
It’s hard to spark interest watching a film that follows the same formula as so many others. Luckily for Backwater, the story picks up midway through with a thankfully original change in plot. Unfortunately the lead up is a challenge to get through. It’s as if writer/ director Christopher Schrack wrote the creative second half first, but had no idea how to properly bridge an intro worthy of the plot. The beginning is lackadaisical, and the dialogue is often painful. It’s hard to tell if the acting is bad, or if it’s the script as leads Justin Tully and Liana Werner-Gray constantly repeat lines they just mentioned. It almost seems like the two were improvising to fill up screen time. It makes for several head scratching scenes that are difficult to watch.
|"I am so peeing right now!"|
The film follows Mark (Tully) and Cass (Werner-Gray) on a camping trip in a distant woodland far away from civilization. Their brief secluded retreat is interrupted when a scream comes from the woods near their campsite. Backwater is a low budget amateur film, and it often plays out as one. Many scenes are shot with a single camera that ping-pongs back and forth between character dialogue. The film also suffers from poor lighting, making it difficult to see at times, especially night time shots. All of these are forgivable mistakes if the story makes up for it, but the first half is so tough to endure, these otherwise nit picky offenses become blatantly obvious speed bumps that hurt an already struggling continuity. Once the script catches up with the actual plot, the story takes over. The dialogue has teeth, the actors have an edge, and the film has a flow. Everything about the film just improves. Capped with some impressive special effects and make up techniques that seemingly come out of nowhere, Backwater actually becomes edge of your seat suspenseful.
All is not bad with this film. Viewers will no doubt be frustrated with the overly drawn out beginning, and many will seriously question some character’s actions and motives. The film ends very loose, leaving many questions unanswered. Overall, the intro severely hurts the film. It’s like an anchor that prevents the story from moving. It’s a shame really. Original ideas are gold in this genre. Unfortunately, the already redundant beginning trickles at such a slow pace that the film is already in a hole when the plot finally takes off. Then just as the story gets interesting, the film ends with an unresolved and confusing conclusion.
-Lee L. Lind
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