The waterhouse

The waterhouse
Original title:The waterhouse
Director:Samuel Clemens
Running time:84 minutes
Release date:Not communicated
After stealing a priceless painting, three men arrive at a secluded safe house by the sea to discover their fourth accomplice missing. Was one of them responsible, or is there a more sinister presence lurking at the water's edge?

Mulder's Review

The Waterhouse, a debut feature by writer and director Samuel Clemens, offers a unique blend of heist gone wrong, Greek mythology, and psychological horror. The film revolves around a trio of art thieves, Eric, Matt, and Paul, who seek refuge at a secluded oceanside hideout after stealing a valuable painting. Eric and Paul are lovers, and their plan is to reunite with Paul's mother, who is also involved in the heist, and lay low until they can escape on a boat. However, their fourth accomplice is missing, and they start experiencing disorienting group psychosis and disturbing hallucinations. To further complicate matters, three young women wash up on the shore, sparking paranoia and mistrust among the group.

The film boasts strong performances, an atmospheric score from composer Edward White, and impressive sound design. Unfortunately, its limited budget restricts its ability to fully realize its ambitious ideas, leaving the audience stranded in a ponderous and insipid narrative. The promising elements, such as White's ominous soundscape, build suspense but fail to deliver a satisfying payoff, and the repetitive use of drone shots and framing dull the impact of the stunning location.

The characters are intriguing, with morally dubious life choices, but the lack of visual dynamism and creative execution leaves them feeling flat and uninspiring. Some moments, like Matt's exaggerated tech support recounting, come across as arch and flippant, potentially insulting the audience's intelligence.

The film attempts to incorporate classical mythology and a black and white flashback sequence, but these elements feel sketchy and confusing, making it challenging for viewers to decode the movie's internal mystery. The plot's reliance on the heist-gone-wrong premise, without a substantial injection of psychodrama, results in a lackluster narrative. One particularly questionable survival technique involving wet toilet paper in the ears leaves much to be desired in terms of realism. However, the film does offer a twist ending that surprises viewers and adds a satisfying touch of deception.

Despite the evident talent and hard work put into The Waterhouse, the film struggles to tie everything together coherently, resulting in a disappointing entry in the low-budget heist meets horror subgenre. In contrast, Pigeon Shrine, written and directed by Samuel Clemens, offers a different experience. The film centers on three men who seek refuge in a remote house by the ocean after stealing a priceless painting. While they wait for their fourth accomplice, their dynamic begins to unravel, and three mysterious women enter the scene. The film takes its time to build tension, but when the women arrive, it becomes thoroughly engaging as a battle for gender supremacy ensues.

Technically, The Waterhouse excels with beautiful locations, water photography, and a captivating score and soundtrack. The film's eerie atmosphere, created through haunting choral notes, adds to its allure. As the film progresses, it becomes more intriguing, and the middle act sets the stage for a final act full of revelations. While the overall direction may be somewhat predictable, Pigeon Shrine keeps the audience engaged throughout.

Lastly, The Waterhouse delivers a slow-burning and haunting narrative as it combines elements of Greek mythology, Reservoir Dogs, and psychological horror. The film revolves around three thieves facing internal conflicts and external threats as they search for their missing accomplice and confront strange experiences on a secluded oceanside house. Writer and director Samuel Clemens skillfully blends myth and metaphysical elements, creating an atmospheric and thought-provoking experience. The film's ambiguous events and brooding sound design linger in the viewer's mind, leaving room for interpretation and discussion.

While The Waterhouse struggles to realize its ambitions due to budget constraints, Pigeon Shrine offers a captivating exploration of gender dynamics in a secluded setting, and The Waterhouse provides a unique blend of heist, mythology, and psychological horror, ultimately making it a promising debut from Samuel Clemens.

The Waterhouse
Written and directed by Samuel Clemens
Produced by George Clemens, Samuel Clemens, James Kermack, Julien Loeffler
Starring  Lara Lemon, Corrinne Wicks, Michelangelo Fortuzzi, Sandrine Salyères, Lily Catalifo, Alan Calton, Dominic Vulliamy               
Music by Edward White
Cinematography : Fernando Ruiz
Edited by George Clemens           
Production companies : Featuristic Films, Ramaz Studios, Take the Shot Films
Release date :  NC
Running time : 84 minutes

Vu le 30 octobre 2023 (screener presse)

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