Waterborne DVD Review
Written and directed by Ben Rekhi
2005, Region 2 (PAL), 85 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 15th August 2011
Christopher Masterson as Zach
Jake Muxworthy as Bodi
Jon Gries as Ritter
Christopher Berry as Carlton (as Chris Berry)
Ajay Naidu as Vikram Bhatti
Mageina Tovah as Lillian
Shabana Azmi as Heera Bhatti
Lindsay Price as Jasmine
Clara Smyth as Clara
Noah Segan as Donovan
A while back I remember having a discussion with a friend about how a lot of people refuse to watch horror films, but flock in their hordes to see natural disaster films like 2012, Armageddon, etc., and although they can be over-the-top blockbusters, aren't these things really far more scary than a chainsaw-wielding psycho? Well, I guess it depends on your imagination, but in reality these are the things that could really cause us harm and on a global scale, too; famine, global warming, terrorist attacks are constant threats to our lives. So standing on your viewpoint, Waterborne could be the scariest thing you watch this year. If not that, it is certainly gripping and thought provoking.
Waterborne centres on three sets of people living in an area of LA that has their water supply poisoned by suspected terrorists and are told not to drink tap water for 72 hours. These people all live separate lives, but are soon tangled together as they all try to survive the terror and growing panic that surrounds them as more people die. It is narrated by Zach (Christopher Masterson), who lives with his cousin Bodi (Jake Muxworthy). The two are struggling to get to Zach's father's house, as it seems the entire population of LA wants to leave, too. The film also follows a Sikh-American family who own a local grocery store. Heera Bahatti (Shabana Azmi) runs the store with help from her son Vikram (Ajay Naidu), but the two are currently feuding over his relationship with a Caucasian girl Lillian (Mageina Tovah). We also follow a family who is split up as the father is a soldier sent to help with the water crisis.
The film plays on a lot of our current fears, as the soldier says "If we're raging wars over oil, just wait 'til we run out of water". Some people may have a problem with some of the clichéd views and dialogue it has, but I liked the concept of the film and especially loved the multicultural aspects it comments on. It really plays on a universal vibe of an uneasiness we can all relate to, and after the recent riots in the UK, the acts of pointless violence did resonate with me.
There is a definite 28 Days Later feel to it, the feel of onset panic, a jittery camera and widespread terror are definite correlations, but also the music used has a sense of urgency that is reminiscent of the fantastic 28 Days Later soundtrack. But this is not zombies attacking; this is humans fighting humans in alarming ways.
The way the movie is shot is very interesting, as I've mentioned there is a very jittery camera, and the video is very grainy and hazy, which is a great effect to add to the desperation of the characters and also conveys the dry situation they are in. I don't think it was a coincidence that throughout the film all I could think about was a nice tall glass of cold water, the director's choice to make it in this way was a great technique, especially for a low budget feature like this.
I really enjoyed the performances, Christopher Masterson will be mostly be recognised for his role as Francis in Malcolm in the Middle, but here he showcases real talent that I hope to see in more on the big screen in the future. The Bahatti family made some stand out performances, and in terms of sequences, held my attention the most. Lillian is a complete sweetheart and I got wrapped up in her relationship with the Bahatti family. She is played by Mageina Tovah, who is most recognisable from her role as Ursula in Spiderman. She brings an innocent but resilient element to the movie.
Waterborne really took me by surprise, the storyline and the general style did not give me high hopes, but overall it was beautifully crafted, well written and a thought-provoking observation on the times we live in.
Video and Audio:
There are two options for audio on this DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0. I found no problems at all with the audio, but the video may not be to everyone's taste. There is a real graininess to it, which is used to emphasise the draught, but it can at times be too murky and the jittery camera angels might be too much for some viewers.
The only let down with this disc is the lack of features. It's such a unique, cool little film that I really would have loved some background on the story and the way it was shot, but it offers us nothing on the extras.