The Drownsman Blu-ray Review

A new supernatural killer arises hoping to send its victims to a watery grave

A young woman suffers creepy visions of a menacing figure killing women in his murky lair. Her friends think she’s crazy until they get dragged into her nightmare. The Drownsman attempts to be a throwback slasher, hoping to create another horror icon in the mold of Freddy Krueger or Jason Vorhees. Is this film the birth of a new horror franchise? Hardly, unless you find plodding action and a generic cast frightening.

Madison (Michelle Mylett) has become withdrawn and fearful of all things aquatic since almost drowning in a lake one year ago. It has gotten so bad she skips out on her best friend Hannah’s (Caroline Korycki) wedding. Madison has been seeing the Drownsman in her visions the past year, a hulking supernatural killer that gets to his victims only through water. Apparently he prefers going after young women like Madison and her friends.

Fed up with her behavior, Madison’s friends stage an intervention for their friend with Cathryn, a woman claiming to be psychic. It’s not really clear why her friends would get a psychic to intervene when they believe that Madison’s problems are all in her head, but whatever. That is the least of this film’s problems. The Drownsman becomes real for everyone when the group performs a strange bathing ritual to have Madison overcome her supposed fear of water. What follows will be very familiar to anyone that has sat through a modern slasher.

Director Chad Archibald’s unrated film scrupulously avoids any hint of salacious content

The Drownsman develops along conventional lines, feeling like a tired genre exercise much of the time. Playing it safe, The Drownsman includes as many trite horror clichés and tropes as it can in its relatively brief 85 minutes. The characters are all rather predictable, from the crazy woman locked up in a mental facility to the old man that conveniently provides a backstory for the Drownsman’s origin. Director Chad Archibald’s unrated film scrupulously avoids any hint of salacious content, a curious decision for a no-budget horror film with an unknown cast.

There are some things to like about this movie despite its uninspired script and humorless tone. The practical effects for the Drownsman’s character work reasonably well. His watery lair sets an appropriately creepy tone when it shows up, resembling a lost ship that has sunk to the bottom of the sea. The film would have worked better if it had given him more of a personality. We get little more than a few grunts and looks that convey anything beyond mindless murder. I also felt the story waited far too long to reveal his face in a clear shot. Nothing more than his feet and a few side views are shown well into the movie. The concept had potential but needed more refinement to truly make it a memorable horror movie.

Movie ★★☆☆☆

The Drownsman in full @ 1:15:10

The new direct-to-video horror film arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Starz/Anchor Bay in a rather ordinary presentation. It’s a short film, clocking in at 85 minutes. The adequate AVC video encode has some minor difficulties with banding and chroma noise. The 1080P video is presented in the film’s intended aspect ratio, 2.35:1.

Filmed with the RED camera, the video is fairly sharp with strong definition. Most of the movie has a normal color temperature with decent contrast and solid black levels. The color palette does become desaturated inside the Drownsman’s watery lair, providing a far murkier viewing experience. The no-budget film has flat lighting and pedestrian cinematography. That leads to less-than-stellar fine detail outside of close-ups. The digital intermediate has not been filtered. The video is simply lacking extraordinary resolution most of the time. A touch of ringing and aliasing is evident in certain scenes.

I have seen better-looking results from the RED, The Drownsman has average picture quality at best for a newer digital production these days. Its satisfactory presentation is fine for this low-budget effort. This might have merited a higher score five years ago but standards have improved.

Video ★★★☆☆

There is nothing in The Drownsman’s audio you haven’t heard in a hundred other recent horror films released on home video. The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD has suitably effective thump and regularly employs the surround channels. The sound design is atmospheric at times, especially for rain and other environmental sounds. It receives the standard surround treatment, spreading the score across the soundstage when necessary. The lossless audio is merely average in sound quality. Dialogue is a little out of whack with the overpowering instrumental score in select scenes.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included. They display in a white font inside the widescreen aspect ratio of the main feature at all times.

Audio ★★★☆☆

No special features are present on this Blu-ray edition except for one trailer that precedes the main menu.

Echoes Trailer (01:52 in HD)

Extras ★☆☆☆☆

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.