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The Outwaters (2022)

I've been seeing a TON of posts about this movie for the last week or so, and I finally sat down to watch it on Screambox last night. I was excited when I heard it was found footage, but also nervous - anyone who is a found footage fan knows what a love/hate relationship it is. When a FF movie is good, it's great, when it's bad, it's reeeeally bad, and there doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground.

This one is great. While it starts off slower, as a lot of films do, we didn't get the stereotypical introductions and, "Say 'hi' to the camera!". It felt much more natural and organic, and because we're learning things as we go along, it doesn't feel drawn out or boring. You have to pay attention to glean the plot from the conversation and actions, and it draws you in. Robbie Banfitch did a phenomenal job with the writing and overall approach.

There was one scene in particular that felt rather ominous to me: I lived in California for a couple of years, and went camping up in the mountains while I was there. When the group stops to take pictures on the side of the road, at the small overlook, it looked incredibly similar to a spot along the road I would take - so much so that I had to go dig through my photos from 2016 just to make sure it was a different location. It was unnerving enough for me, that it definitely set the tone for the rest of the movie and the escalation in events.

Anyone who's been to the desert knows that it's one hell of a feeling. It's liberating to be out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, but also incredibly intimidating. The wide open sky makes you feel like an ant compared to the vastness around you. All of this (personal experiences aside), creates an atmosphere that's a mood all its own, and plays a huge part in the terror that unfolds.

I found myself incredibly invested in these characters and what they were experiencing. It was so vague, yet terrifying, that it keeps you on edge wondering what in the world is happening. I thought I'd figured out what was going on three or four different times, before I finally threw in the towel and realized I didn't have a clue. While this kind of approach can be frustrating in some movies, it works so well here. You're as disoriented as the characters are, after being lulled into a false sense of security during the first portion of the movie.

The question of, "Why are they filming/still filming?" never popped into my head. I've seen some reviews where people were annoyed with the lack of lighting and the camera "bouncing around", but with as well done as the rest of the movie is, it's clear that the chaos is deliberate and not a lack of skill by any means.

I definitely feel like this is one of the best found footage movies that's been released in recent times. It left me reeling like a rug had been pulled out from under my feet, and I have no doubts I could watch this movie a million times, and still pick up on something new with every watch. Definitely check it out - I'd give it a solid 4/5!

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