A found footage film set in the Mojave desert promises to be a sunny screamfest. This is everything we know about The Outwaters.
There's something strangely appealing about the desert. It's an ocean of fine sediment, one home to a plethora of unique flora and fauna that simply can't survive outside the scorching heat and dry air. It's a setting closely associated with images of taming the wild west, exploring unknown horizons, discovering new people — and death. We've all seen the jokes about desert mirages and the dangers of dehydration, and while those are often played for laughs wherever they come up, it's a legitimate hazard when navigating the sandy tundras. For a group of unsuspecting explorers in The Outwaters, it'll likely lead to more than just their doom.
An upcoming found-footage film directed and written by Robbie Banfitch, The Outwaters is a little different compared to its contemporaries. Drawing inspiration from The Blair Witch Project and The Tree of Life, Banfitch aims to capture a certain kind of madness one can only experience in a region detached from creature comforts and sane rationale.
This is everything we know about The Outwaters.
The official plot synopsis provided by Cinedigm, while sparse, offers a good idea of what to expect from The Outwaters.
"Four travelers experience a mind-bending trip through terror while camping in a remote stretch of the Mojave desert."
The synopsis and equally sparse trailer paint a delightfully disturbing picture. One can immediately draw comparisons to The Blair Witch Project, but whereas that film utilized a paranormal investigation and the woodlands of Maryland to instill fear, we instead have a standard road trip set in the middle of the Mojave Desert. It's implied that, after night falls, the natural dangers of the region are compounded by an unknown force. Whether it's merely the madness of the endless horizon or possibly a form of cosmic horror is purposefully obscure. A violent, explicit finale is briefly seen, most of it taking place under the shadows of night. If you view it frame-by-frame, there are some pretty grisly effects work going on.
Other descriptions of The Outwaters include the discovery of three separate SD cards by an unrelated third party, which likely contain the "found footage" that makes up the story. It'd be a simple way of framing a film's three-act structure while giving the audience a reminder of just how much trouble there is to come. Seeing as how the trailer ends with the tagline "we all die in the dark," we can't help but assume that nightfall will result in something particularly perturbing, likely taking place on the third SD card.
Interestingly, the trailer for The Outwaters paints a similarly unsettling vibe to Shudder's recent film, Skinamarink. Both utilize a more atmospheric approach in building tension, relying on the audience's investment in what they're seeing to build up dread. If that's the case, there will certainly be a divide in approval from those who wanted a more traditional horror experience compared to the opposite. Reviews for The Outwaters during its film festival run highlighted this divide.
Similarly to how The Blair Witch Project was cast, each of the actors in The Outwaters will retain their first name for their respective characters. Robbie Banfitch (Robbie Zagorac), Angela Basolis (Ange Bocuzzi), Scott Schamell (Scott Zagorac), Michelle May (Michelle August), and Leslie Ann Banfitch (Leslie Zagorac) will make up a majority of the film's cast. Most have no prior documented experience in acting, with some having a background in the technical side of filmmaking instead. This may raise some red flags for some, but it could also lead to a more authentic performance due to their inexperience. Some cast members will also take on the dual role of camera operators, documenting a descent into madness the best way they can.
Additional cast members include Christine Brown, Nancy Bujnowski, Agnieszka Cieslak, Melissa Andrea, and Scott Oakdale.
The film will be produced through a joint effort by 5100 Films and Fathom Film Company. The former was responsible for Hello I Must Be Going and Closure, while the latter was involved with Banfitch's previous and upcoming films, including Tinsman Road, Exvallis, and White Light.
The Outwaters is currently set to release in select theaters on February 9. A release on the streaming service Screambox has been confirmed, though release dates for both it and VOD are to be determined.
When The Outwaters made the rounds at the Unnamed Footage Festival in 2022, it won the Jury Award for Best Feature. It'll mark Banfitch's feature film debut, having directed a handful of short films over the past 17 years.
The Outwaters was shot on location in the Mojave Desert, giving it an authentic representation of its setting. It's possible that the few times we see the cast interacting with various wildlife were genuine, candid moments.
Sean Shuman graduated from Northern Virginia Community College with an Applied Associate’s Degree in Information Systems Technology. His true passion, however, has always been writing.
When he’s not contributing to Movieweb, Sean can be found playing video games, cooking, or listening to NoMeansNo — the greatest Canadian cultural export next to Rush.