With studios struggling to make money it’s clear that they are all going through their archives to find anything that they can put out on DVD with the hope of making some money. This is clearly the case with Waterborne, a film that until now hadn’t appeared on our sonar.
Made in 2005, Waterborne has all the hallmarks of a post 9/11 thriller. It has a plot line that would make Jack Bauer feel at home and a collection of eclectic characters who start out apart and not knowing each other, before coming together Crash-style.
The film is clearly a lower-budget affair than probably one episode of 24, but that isn’t its major problem. The big issue is that it is trying to do too much. The name refers to the fact that the water supply to Los Angeles has been contaminated and people are dying. There is a county-wide warning to stay away from all sources of running water, which means that there is big demand for bottled supplies.
To be fair the film doesn’t go down the obvious route we would expect that many a film with this kind of plot would go; people going to any lengths to get a drink, tempers flaying, which leads to huge amounts of character examination in a very stereotypical way.
Instead what you have are three groups of people: the shopkeeper and family who sell water, the National Guardsman who has to protect water supplies and two stoners who are on the search for water.
The characterisation is actually very good, particularly the shopkeeper and his family who are Sikh and, unfortunately, mistaken for being the same sort of people (Muslim terrorists) who are thought to have poisoned the water. You have fewer feelings for the national guardsmen though and even less for the stoners.
The trouble with this is that the stoners are the main characters, with one of them played by the only actor we recognised, Christopher Masterson who played Malcolm in the Middle‘s brother in the TV show. Although after a bit of IMDbing we did find out that Don Swayze, brother of the late Patrick Swayze, also features.
When you consider that the film is about polluted water and that the human body is 70 per cent water, you would think that a great deal of such a film would be about the search for the damn stuff, wouldn’t you? Well apparently the writers of Waterborne didn’t think so. In a zombie film you see a lot of zombies, in a film about a lack of water you’d think, oh well never mind!
All this means is that Waterborne is your run-of-the-mill, middle of the clichés, mildly suspense filled terror film, only without a lot of the usual tension. It would have been better as either a road movie, with just the two stoners, or a story about three disparate groups who come together at the end of the film for some reason, but without the poisoned water thing.
What this means is that, unless you have a hankering for knock-off 24 scripts and are missing your regular dose of post 9/11 hysteria now that 24 has finished, you shouldn’t really go out of your way to watch Waterborne. If you are stuck at home and the only other options are the X Factor or any film starring Meg Ryan then put this on, it will be less painful.
Reviewer(s): Henry Tucker & Richard Bishop