Zombie Month: Beneath Still Waters by Jamie

Spain recently came onto the world wide Zombie scene with ‘Rec’, a film which I loved, and ‘Rec 2’, a film which kinda missed the mark for me. But two years before the original ‘Rec’, a film was released which also had what can be described as Zombies in it. And, like ‘Rec’, the film was tinged with Satanic myth and lore. That film was ‘Beneath Still Waters’ and it’s the subject of today’s Zombie Month review. Let’s dig in. Spoilers ahead

The film opens in Northern Spain in 1965. Two boys frolic through the Spanish fields before entering a village which has been fenced off. The reason for this is that the town is being slowly flooded due to a new dam being built. The water is already up to the boys shins as they wade through, playing and laughing and having fun. Oh, what a jolly thing to be a young boy in Northern Spain in 1965. Or so you’d think. Unfortunately, shit’s about to get real.

The boys stumble across a building with screams coming from and a firey glow in the windows. One of the boys decides they should go in and try and help these people who are clearly trapped in some way. They enter and soon find themselves in a basement where the occupants are chained to the floor, wailing and screaming and making all manner of unpleasant noises. The braver boy goes to help them when a voice in the corner calls him over, telling him to ignore them and free him instead which the boy does. The man, Mordecai Salas, who you know is evil because is name is Mordecai, immediately turns on the boy, forces his hands into his mouth and tears is head in two. Where was the Facebook child abuse status campaign when it was really needed in 1965 Northern Spain, huh? No where, that’s where. The other boy, understandably terrified by this, turns and runs, presumably shitting and pissing himself all the way home.

So then the movie cuts to 2005 and the people in the town that used to neighbour Floodville are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the construction of the dam. A photo journalist by the name of Dan Quarry is there, taking pictures of the submerged village and local TV reporter and daughter of the recently deceased town mayor, Teresa Borgia is reporting on the big party for the dam because I guess people really have nothing better to do in Northern Spain than celebrate big concrete walls that hold water back.

There is a problem and soon there are a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances, particularly around the reservoir. One early death is that of a friend of Teresa’s daughter Clara who’s also been having weird dreams lately about her dead grandfather warning her that someone is back. That someone is, of course, Mordecai Salas, who reminds me more and more of Keith Richards as the film progresses. Isn’t it weird that Keith Richards is now a part of a major Disney franchise? Anyway, the weird shit escalates including the odd Zombie like creature popping up here and there.

The first Zombie you really see attacks the dam supervisor, who’s hiding the fact that the dam has a huge crack in it for some reason. Anyway, the Zombie that attacks him kinda looks like a three way cross between the last Zombie from Rec, Nosferatu and the Dad from ‘Mac and Me’. If you’ve read my post about the Five Terrifying Monsters From My Childhood then you probably already know that this scene kinda creeped me out a little. Not as much as that bastard alien did but still, a little.

Anyway, Zombie’s pop up here and there, killer plants trap people and turn them into weird Zombie things too and the party at the dam becomes a massive demonically possessed orgy, much to my approval. Teresa and Dan decide to seek out the young boy, Louis, who lost his friends all those years ago. He explains that Salas was a student of Satanism and fuelled his power with sacrifices from amongst his followers in the village. Teresa’s father cottoned onto this and, in order to save the area from his evil, he bought up the land and had the dam built. As a final measure, he had Salas and his followers chained up in the basement of the building so that the flood would trap them forever. And everything would have gone according to plan if it hadn’t been for those two meddling kids.

So now that the old mayor is dead, Salas is back to wreak his terrible vengeance upon the people town that flooded his clan by letting his demonic influence infest the town and causing the dam to break. Apparently the only person who can stop him is Clara and so he goes after her. Louis, Dan and Teresa set out to stop him, with Louis getting torn apart in the process. Dan visit’s the submerged village in order to burn Salas’ magic book in the basement he was trapped and Teresa goes to find Clara.

Salas already has her and is about to tear her to head in two when Dan succeeds in destroying the book. Salas is defeated, everything returns back to normal and the dam doesn’t break. Except ten it does. The End.

So that’s the basic story. I’ve skipped over a few other plot points and storylines because honestly, this film has a lot going on. Too much really. And that’s the films biggest problem. There’s just too much going on here for me to really care about everything. There’s the backstory of Teresa and her father, Clara and her grandfather, Dan and his son, Clara’s best friend…. It goes on and on. Cut out a few of those extraneous plots and you could have had quite a neat little movie here.

The acting’s also a bit of a problem. I had no real problem with any of the major characters but some of the side characters were so woefully inept that it took it too a ridiculous level. Still, the special effects were pretty awesome and largely practical which was nice. In particular I really enjoyed the look of the Zombies and this one dude who was sitting there laughing maniacally whilst hacking his own limbs off. Awesome.

So ‘Beneath Still Waters’ was actually quite a surprisingly entertaining film. There were moments where it got pretty damn slow, mainly because of the mess of fucking storylines that it was trying to resolve all at once but on the whole, not bad. Three pints out of five.

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