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Saturday, April 30, 2022

‘The Outwaters’ Review – A Singular, Experimental Descent into Depravity and Gory Chaos [Panic Fest]

Despite a familiar initial setup, there’s nothing conventional about found footage nightmare The Outwaters. Nothing will prepare you for the disturbing journey writer/director Robbie Banfitch has in store, either. Banfitch mercilessly lulls viewers with a soothing intro before ripping open a dark abyss beneath them, flinging them into an immersive pit of visceral madness.

The Outwaters unfurls its tale over three memory cards found in the Mojave Desert. They contain footage of a foursome that set out to make a music video while camping, filmed by LA filmmaker Robbie (also Banfitch). The quiet, peaceful trip is mostly uneventful, except for sporadic strange sounds, vibrations, and odd animal behavior. Then one night, that calm savagely flips, sending them all on a mind-bending trip through terror.

Unlike the typical found footage setup that sees its characters seek out urban legends or reputedly haunted spaces to satiate their curiosity, the characters in Banfitch’s feature exhibit no such ambitions. They weren’t intentionally seeking out danger. Banfitch spends a lengthy amount of time on introductions to instill a feeling of normality; these four friends only expected a chill time in the desert. It’s a refreshing break from the format’s tropes, but, more importantly, it creates a jarring contrast that makes what’s ahead induce shocking whiplash. 

Banfitch rewards patience with a full-blown sensory assault, plunging viewers into the depths of gag-inducing insanity. A conventional found footage movie transforms into an experimental cosmic nightmare, with only a camera and flashlight to guide the way through the pitch black. The limited scope gives glimpses of screeching creatures slithering across the desert sand, of the copious amounts of blood and carnage saturating everything, allowing the imagination to run wild with the shadowed spaces. The sound design kicks into overdrive, further immersing you in this hellscape. It builds and builds in maddening ways, drifting further away from anything resembling reality.

The full-tilt into hellish horror means a severe lack of handholding. Banfitch provides visual clues for the audience to piece together what’s happening or form theories but never bothers to explain. That choice presents the solid potential to polarize. Instead, the filmmaker is far more interested in creating experiential horror. The Outwaters is experimental, preferring to relay a nightmarish descent through disturbing imagery and audio. It revels in uncertainty and unpredictability, rendering its lead’s panicked, terrified, and confused state of mind palpable.

In addition to starring, writing, and directing, Banfield produced, edited, did the cinematography, and handled the special effects and sound design. It’s a singular effort with an impressive level of craft. He exerts and maintains control over a surreal voyage into depravity and keeps pushing the boundaries further and further. The way Banfield transforms the found footage format into something far more transgressive impresses. There’s no guessing where or even how Robbie’s journey will end, though you might reach for a barf bag once or twice along the way. While it dwells a little too long on the serene setup, washed in pastel pink and purple sunsets, the full-throttled plunge into a black and red viscera-drenched personal hell embeds itself deep into your skull and remains long after the credits.

The post ‘The Outwaters’ Review – A Singular, Experimental Descent into Depravity and Gory Chaos [Panic Fest] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3713069/the-outwaters-review/

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