I really wish there were more hours in a day. The amount of movies I have piling up on my “to watch” list is absurd and I really only have enough spare time to watch one or two per week. Because of this, pressing play on a blind-buy or a movie I know nothing about is a huge gamble. Luckily for me, there are still some hidden gems out there that are a breath of fresh air when stumbling upon them. One of these said gems is the third film by the Onetti brothers, What the Waters Left Behind.
Thirty years after a disaster left it flooded and in ruins, a crew of filmmakers travel to the town of Epecuén to shoot a documentary. Once there, they quickly learn that the forgotten city isn’t as deserted as they were led to believe.
Not a complete stranger to the works of the brothers Onetti, Luciano and Nicolas, I’ve been hearing about this film on and off for some time now. Touted as the Spanish version of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, What the Waters Left Behind is a gritty, new-school take on a familiar story.
While this 2017 film certainly has more than a few similarities to that iconic film, and its 2003 re-imagining at that, it never feels like a cheap imitation. In fact, there is nothing “cheap” about this one; The cinematography is beautiful, with gorgeous establishing shots shown throughout the film’s 94 minutes properly displaying just how demolished the setting really is, and the overall production value of What the Waters Left Behind is top-notch. If you were to tell me that a big-budgeted, major studio was behind this, I would have no reason to question you. Still, it does not lose its rough-around-the-edges esthetic and foreboding tone at any point.
Perhaps most known for their giallo-inspired trilogy, writers/producers/directors/everythingelseyoucanimagine Luciano and Nicolas Onetti have done a tremendous job of showing they can offer much more than the DIY odes to the Italian sub-genre. What the Waters Left Behind is a slasher flick through and through and a mighty gory one at that.
Once the mayhem kicks in, nothing is held back. Accomplished with 100% practical effects, limbs are hacked off, helpless victims are gutted, and faces are smashed to bloody mounds of chopped meat. The carnage looks amazing every time it splashes across the screen and I commend the Onetti brothers for giving us horror heads the kill scenes that we deserve.
It isn’t all blood and guts, however. The characters introduced rather early on are all fleshed out enough that you know what you are getting with each and every one. There are sub-plots to discover, a love triangle or two, and more, and this type of character development, no matter how large or small a degree, is a welcome addition to any film I watch, horror or otherwise.
All performers present, whether on the side of the protagonists or antagonists, do a wonderful job. There are no weak links to be found, making this one that much more enjoyable.
What the Waters Left Behind at Home
Unearthed Films managed to hit another home run when they acquired the rights to this film. A company that is mainly known for straight-up extreme gore flicks have really impressed me with their catalog over the last couple of years. Each release gets better and better in my eyes and the now available Blu-ray [and DVD] of What the Waters Left Behind is no different.
The film is presented in a 2.35:1/16:9 widescreen format and has a Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish language audio track. There are, of course, English subtitles present.
As far as bonus material, the film, originally titled Los olvidados, is accompanied by a short compilation of behind-the-scenes footage and a photo gallery.
What the Waters Left Behind is a great horror film, plain and simple. The men behind it have taken a real life tragedy of the sudden 1985 destruction of a small town in Argentina, and added a horror twist that is more horrifying than the tragic event already was. The acting is great, the writing is impressive, and the cinematography is fantastic. Not to mention the blood-spattering gore, of course.
Be sure to get your hands on a copy of this one, as it is not to be missed. I give What the Waters Left Behind 4.5 skewered puppies out of 5.