A small documentary film crew is heading to the city of Epecuen, Argentina. Lost to surging flood waters back in 1985 the town has been abandoned for over thirty years. One of the survivors from the town, Carla (Victoria Maurette), will be the subject of the film. Though she was very young at the time, she lived in the town with her grandmother and provides the insight they want for their film.
After a hardly pleasant exchange with the locals at a gas station the crew head into town and begin filming. But their vehicle breaks down, stranding them long enough to learn that a family of psycho killers have taken up residence in the deserted town. Split up around the city the crew struggle to stay alive.
After taking a couple of turns to express their love for the giallo genre, the Onetti Brothers, Nic and Luc, show their love for psycho family killer films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hill Have Eyes with their new film Los Olvidados - What the Waters Left Behind. Tackling everything from writing, directing, producing, editing and scoring their film they have woven together a rich visual tapestry, using some stunning photography and a rich saturation of the colors available against the blanched landscape of Epecuen. Surround it by Luc’s terrific score and What the Waters Left Behind teases the sense with the best of them.
The violence in the film is largely physical with a spot of sexual violence thrown in to prove just how psycho this family is. The abandoned meat packing factory is the base of their operations so it is only fitting that the biggest gore shot of them all involves a oversized jigsaw. Overall what the Onetti brothers have done with their violence is divide it between overwhelming money shots, sawing and clubbings, and hiding it away from the audiences’ eyes so we are left with only our imaginations to fill in the blanks.
What we feel is missing though is the set up, those few seconds before a scene that build up anticipation or tension in the viewer. It was its most obvious near the beginning of the action when one of the crew go looking for her missing dog then the next time we see her she is running away from someone but we have no idea who it was, We did not see her come across any of the psycho family members so we are unsure who or what she is running away from.
This is the most glaring instance in the film but on the whole a little more patience before getting into the mix would have had a better payoff, building tension and anticipation in the audience. Which at odds with other instances in the film where the brothers hold the camera onto an image longer than its staying power would suggest.
Whatever misgivings I have about missing tension building moments What the Water Left Behind is still as good a psycho family killer movie as those that have come before it. It may not sit aloft with the legends but it in no way insults the genre with loathing characters and miscreants. The violence in it, apart from the sexual kind, should satisfy horror fans’ bloodlust and like the masters of the craft before them engages the audience with those fill in the blank moments. Add a fun little reveal to the family tree at the end and you have yourself a worthy addition to the psycho family killer genre.
What the Waters Left Behind
- Luciano Onetti
- Nicolás Onetti
- Luciano Onetti
- Nicolás Onetti
- Carlos Goitia
- Paula Brasca
- Mirta Busnelli
- Victorio D'Alessandro
- Damián Dreizik
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