In the spirit of “Two Thousand Maniacs,” a bunch of yanks get themselves butchered up real good whilst vacationing in an unfriendly southern town. Don’t expect the same rollicking good time H.G. Lewis gave us, however. No siree. For as gory as the deaths get in this backwoods splatter flick, all of their impact is squashed by a bunch of dull characters, boring situations, pointless dialogue and an uninspired set-up of the murderous goober. Yep, this flick is just plain dull.
Very little happens for the first 45 minutes of this film as our campers get hassled by the locals before lollygagging around their riverside campsite. During this time we get to know the characters a little bit, as if it mattered. The conversations these characters engage in, when they’re not bickering and telling each other to f**k off, are so inconsequential to anything else going on in the film that they may as well be speaking an alien language. For example, we get a nice long story from a character as he explains to his friend why he refuses to go in the water with everyone else. Okay, fine. So here we have something set-up. There’s a reason why we just heard this story, right? Sure. A couple quick things that come to mind are that maybe he’s going to have to overcome this fear in order to save his or someone else’s a*s or perhaps he’ll wind up drowning. A character absolutely terrified of water who winds up drowning has impact. You may see it coming from a mile away, but it’s still a nasty thing to behold. So what winds up happening to this guy? About ten minutes later he’s getting his noggin cracked open by the killer without ever even getting his tootsies wet. So why was five minutes of the film killed with that pointless story? I have no clue and I doubt anyone else does either.
Alright, so 45 minutes go by and finally the killer, a towering figure called “the Boy” who likes like a cross between the Elephant Man and the hero from the old “Splatterhouse” videogames, comes rambling through the camp, chasing down and wiping out each of the campers one by one in ultra-gory fashion. The intense gore may be enough to keep the most rabid of splatter fans awake, but that and actually one really effective scare is about all they’ll have to hold on to. The build-up to this massacre is such a boring affair that once the Boy does leap into action, he’s more of a pain in the a*s rather than a real frightening threat. You just want him to hurry up and be done with it so you can go do something else. Of course he takes his sweet time with his bloody duty and this includes the seemingly endless punching out of one of his victims. Yawn.
A true test of one’s patience, “The Undertow” is anti-entertainment.