The Drownsman (2014) Movie Review



Directed by Chad Archibald Written by Chad Archibald
Starring Michelle Mylett, Caroline Palmer, Ry Barrett

88 mins - Horror | Slasher | Fantasy | Thriller - Release date: 8 November 2014

I remember that The Drownsman screened at the Fantasia Film Festival back in 2014, and that there was a lot of talk about it. Then I heard someone, or some group of people, say that it wasn’t that good, and I never really gave it a second thought.

Some time after the fest, Anchor Bay sent me the DVD, which I placed on my desk, and there it stayed collecting dust as something I’d watch when I had time. Well, last night I dusted it off and slid it into my willing computer (she’s so easy), and although I was tired as hell and expected to fall asleep, Chad Archibald’s The Drownsman kept me wide awake.


Now, having seen Hellmouth, Ejecta, Septic Man, and Antisocial II, I like Chad Archibald and his work, but I have to say that I might have enjoyed The Drownsman most of all, but that’s probably because I love me some slasher movies.

Admittedly, The Drownsman could have been a lot more slasher, but it did set up a nice origin story. And that’s a nice change of pace for a slasher film, and potential franchise, to start out with. As we all know, origin stories too often don’t appear until the second or third instalment.


Another nice element here was the chemistry between actors. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish in film; you have to put together a cast of virtual strangers and somehow make them appear to be realistic best friends. To do that you need good actors, a good script, and a good director, all of which The Drownsman had.

It’s true that the type of intervention that Madison’s (Michelle Mylett) friends enact is probably highly unlikely, though not completely beyond reality, but it’s not unlikely that friends would seek to help a friend who is falling deeper and deeper into mental illness.

That perceived mental illness, however, is anything but. See, early on in the film Madison has a near fatal incident with a lake, and as she survived drowning she didn’t survive a supernatural encounter with the Drownsman. Fast forward a year and she’s so terrified of water that she won’t even drink a glass of water, opting instead to take her liquids intravenously.


After missing her best friend Hannah’s (Caroline Palmer) wedding, in which Madison was supposed to be the maid of honor, her friends have the intervention and unwittingly release the malevolent spirit of the Drownsman. Who the Drownsman is, in conjunction with the movie’s opening scene, may or may not surprise you, but it is a little twist that’s a nice touch that opens up the possibility to make this a franchise.

Of course I could come down on Archibald for borrowing from the likes of A Nightmare on Elm Street or even SAW, but on the whole The Drownsman was an enjoyable little flick that served up a more or less original tale. As a low-budget film, they also did a fantastic job with creature make-up, sets, and props, however, it’s apparent where they skimped to make these parts better. Not a complaint at all; it’s just an observation.

The Verdict:

The Drownsman is a fun throwback to the classic slasher genre and one that most fans of the genre can enjoy.

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