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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

The Drownsman  (2015)
1 Star
Directed by Chad Archibald.
Cast: Michelle Mylett, Caroline Korycki, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss, Clare Bastable, Ry Barrett, Katie Nicole Evans, JoAnn Nordstrom, Samuel Borstein, Kelly-Marie Murtha.
2015 – 86 minutes
Not Rated (equivalent of an R for strong violence and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, May 13, 2015.
A haphazard script can derail even the most promising of concepts, and so it goes with "The Drownsman," a low-budget, paranoia-fueled fantasy/slasher pic that collapses under the weight of innumerable plot holes and negligent story points. One year after Madison (Michelle Mylett) experienced a horrifying vision of a stringy-haired madman while nearly drowning, her newfound phobia of water has alienated her from her friends and rendered her a virtual shut-in. When a rainstorm keeps her from fulfilling her duties as maid of honor at BFF Hannah's (Caroline Korycki) wedding, Hannah decides it is time to throw her an intervention. In the midst of a séance, the ladies unwittingly conjure the supernatural psychopath who has been stalking Madison—a serial killer who drowned his victims in his grungy basement lair before suddenly going missing years ago. There's just one catch: he can only get to them through H2O.

There is no disputing that "The Drownsman" is capably shot by cinematographer Marc Forand and has a few moments that prove adequately effective when judged separately from the inanities surrounding them. Under better circumstances, writer-director Chad Archibald could be a solid technical filmmaker. Under these circumstances, however, he is done in by his and co-writer Cody Calahan's absurd, unperceptive, hair-brained screenplay. If the title boogeyman has been after Madison for a full twelve months and she, in turn, has had to avoid water like the plague, the story demands that certain questions be answered. Has she bathed in a year? If not, why does she look reasonably clean and hygienic? Has she used a washing machine? If not, does she just buy a new wardrobe every few weeks? Has she used the toilet? If not, does she just squat out back? Has she drank water? If not, how is she alive at all? Were these ridiculous oversights not enough, Hannah gets married at the start to a man who is never seen or heard from and whom she apparently never spends time with since she is by Madison's side for virtually every minute in the days thereafter. Likewise, how old are Madison and her pals? Are they in school, despite never going? Do they have careers, despite never clocking in? And how can they afford to live in nice single-family homes by themselves with no family or roommates of which to speak? These perplexing queries are just the tip of the iceberg with "The Drownsman," a film that aims to build dread over aqua but instead creates frustration over its own inexcusable senselessness.
© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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