In 2017 What the Waters Left Behind made some waves as a horror film that came out of Argentina. It was shot on a pretty low budget, but it seems it was successful enough to warrant a sequel. I actually stumbled across What the Waters Left Behind on a streaming service one late night when I couldn’t sleep. The film is pretty much made for late-night viewing; it has a fun midnight movie vibe. The first film follows a group of documentary filmmakers that are traveling to the town of Epecuen that was wiped out in the 80’s, and the filmmakers want to check out the ruins of the town. What follows is a fun Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets The Hills Have Eyes romp filled with plenty of gore and the terrible demise of this film crew that wandered where they didn’t belong. Now it is five years later, and we have the sequel What the Waters Left Behind: Scars. This was unexpected, but just what did I think about this Latin-flavored bloodfest? Well, it’s pretty much what I expected, and that’s a good thing.
This time around instead of a documentary film crew we are getting to follow The Ravens, a rock band that is winding up their tour with a last gig in a small bar and an even smaller fan base. The band is ready to head home after the gig, but the drummer has other plans when he hooks up with a local girl who promises them a place to stay if they give her a ride home. She just happens to live in Epecuen.
Just to get it out of the way … yes, this is fairly low-budget, and the acting isn’t anything near what you’ll see in an A-list release at the local multiplex … but I like the awkward chemistry of the band. More importantly director Nicolas Onetti did a good job with casting people who look the part. One of the biggest wins this film has is the location of the ruined town. It looks so good on screen, and it is a shame it wasn’t utilized more, because especially when this goes to the wide shots you can’t help but feel dread for the main characters, because no matter how long the run, you know there is nowhere safe for them to go.
Then there are the locals of Epecuen. It is obvious what the influences are for this film, and the execution is pretty good, and in many ways I feel it was done a little better this time around. The gore isn’t really too in-your-face, but this is still a pretty violent film. As a horror film with cannibalism, this is pretty tame, and in many ways while watching this I can’t help but reflect on just how brilliant Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre was. This film has a dinner table scene, and it tries to capture the intensity of the infamous dinner table scene with the family in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it just fails. It’s not a slight to the director; many have tried to duplicate that scene, but no one has come close to matching that sequence, nor do I think anyone ever will.
If I had a major complaint, it would be that I hated the opening the scene. I know how it seems every horror film needs to have that intense opening scene to set the tone for the film, but this one just seemed so forced and was trying to be so shocking, but it came off a little lame. Any horror fan can see how this sequence is going to turn out, and the delivery just misses the mark. Then there is the sequence where one of the cannibal locals is discussing “scars”. I wish we got more of this, a longer peek behind the curtain of why these people do the things they do. I’m not asking to have their actions justified to the audience, but let us see how crazy these characters are.
At the end of the day this is a fun late-night movie to throw on and have a good time with. Do you need to see the first one to know what’s going on here? No, but for those horror fans who can appreciate a rough-around-the-edges independent film, it’s at least worth checking out, and watching Parts 1 and 2 would make for a fun late-night movie film binge. This is definitely a film for the fan of watching movies that are not what you’d find at your local movie theater but instead are off the beaten path.