In 1965 in Northern Spain, a new dam is to be built which will flood the small town of Marinbad forever. Two young boys cross over the security barriers to play in the abandoned town for one last time, inadvertently releasing a horrible evil force that was trapped there and doomed to be submerged underwater forever. Forty years later and Desbaria, the new town built to replace the old one, is celebrating the anniversary of the damn when weird things start to happen in the water. People are going missing. The dam is beginning to leak. It seems that the evil force beneath the water has resurfaced.
Beneath Still Waters is an absolute train wreck of a film. I honestly don’t know where to start. Some have good intentions but end up paying the price for their budgets or lack of originality. Some are just designed to fail from the start. Some, like this, just have the best of both worlds. It’s got a pretty decent budget by the looks of things and clearly has good intentions. But it looks as though they had five directors each doing their own thing before banding it all together at the end. Brian Yuzna, the director credited with this fiasco, must have been coked to the gills or stone drunk when he oversaw it.
Beneath Still Waters starts well – the opening is decent enough with the two boys playing in a semi-submerged town only to come across a bunch of people chained in a basement in a house. Then one of them stupidly sets the big scary-looking guy free and he shows him his thanks by ripping his head in two and eating him. Kudos to the filmmakers as you rarely see kids being harmed in horror films, let alone being brutalised like that. Unfortunately it’s at this point where the film just goes off in about ten different directions.
Not just content with the original story of the devil-worshipping cult being submerged underwater, we then get throat-ripping zombies appearing. We’ve got a dude who looks like The Tall Man from the Phantasm series barking orders to his minions and using magic powers. We’ve got black goo which attacks people like The Blob. We’ve got horribly deformed demonic creatures dragging people into the water. We’ve got ghosts warning about what is going to happen next. I mean how much can you cram in? It would have been good to have someone or something explain the connection to all of these occurrences. Someone thought “I’ve got a cool zombie scene to film” and they went ahead with it purely because it would cool to have it in the film.
As well as the above events happening, we also have a mayor who refuses to believe anything is happening because he doesn’t want his festival ruined (oh boy, I thought that old chestnut only came out during ‘monster on the loose’ flicks). We’ve got a spooky-looking caretaker who finds a bottle of scotch just floating around and starts drinking from it (like you do). There’s an amazingly hot chick who goes skinny dipping, only to come across her dead boyfriend and they proceed to have sex before he kills her. And there’s a massive orgy at the festival when the townspeople become possessed and start having sex with each other (and also having sex with cakes, lots of cakes). Added to all of this is the fact that the film is bloody. People get ripped apart constantly. They cut their own legs off. The make-up effects of the zombies and demons and stuff (whatever hell else wasn’t CGI) is top notch. But it’s just complete mayhem.
The cast are all pretty good actors in their own native language I am pretty sure. But apart from Michael McKell, it’s obvious that English isn’t their first language. So they talk as if they’re following one of those ‘learn to speak English in ten weeks’ tapes. I’ve seen some lame attempts at speaking English. Heck, I can cope with a few of the cast speaking like robots but when 99% of the cast talk in this manner, it’s just horrible. They unwittingly kill any emotions in their voices. They are devoid of any expressive speaking. I honestly can’t believe how annoying and ear-splitting it is to hear them reciting their lines. It pains me to hear them butcher the English language in that manner.
Their understanding of the script isn’t in question though, given how the script manages to twist, turn, reverse, fast forward and double take so many times. Maybe the script writer was the same guy who did the special effects. As I’ve already touched on, the physical make-up effects are top drawer. It’s the ropey CGI that leaves a lot to be desired. And I mean a lot. But like the rest of the film, one minute there’s something decent and the next it’s just organised chaos and sub-standard quality. I’m exhausted now and I probably haven’t even covered half of the things I wanted to.
Beneath Still Waters is just mayhem personified. Words can’t describe how chaotic this film really is. I don’t even know whether I should give it ten out of then or zero out of ten for it’s ‘against the rules’ behaviour. It’s totally and utterly bonkers. Madness or masterpiece? I can’t decide. You’ll have to see for yourself and decide.