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Undertow, The (2003)
Movie Review by The Mortician

Undertow, The (2003) 2003 has seen the resurgence of horror in the biggest of ways on the silver screen, with a major nod to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE HILLS HAVE EYES, most notably. Think WRONG TURN, TCM 2003, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, CABIN FEVER, etc. etc. It's funny that the micro-horror scene has never really forgotten the impact of the seminal classics---it's only the Hollywood boys that seem to keep finding it and losing it in waves. Granted, this year has been good, but the indie horror scene never dies saluting this kind of material. Which brings us to this review...THE UNDERTOW is the latest from Sub Rosa Extreme's Jeremy Wallace and if you like CAMPERS VS. PSYCHO flicks, you'll be sure to enjoy this movie. An excellent cross between THE BURNING and MOTHER'S DAY, this twisted tale pits six friends on a weekend rafting trip against a psycho wearing a hood (ala' Jason in FRIDAY THE 13th Part 2) in a backwoods town called Old Mines. What gore fans want is delivered in buckets: intestines are ripped apart, skulls are cracked, eyes are gouged, and people are beaten til they are senseless and bloodsoaked. The gore is so extreme in this movie that it actually heads into H.G. Lewis-territory during some of the most intense sequences, which can be good and bad. While entertaining for the gorehound, these scenes of lingering violence almost take the viewer out of the story with their longevity. Faster cutting and quicker glimpses of this stuff might have been the way to go, but again, it's all in the eye of the beholder.What works in this movie best (gore aside) is a pretty decent cast doing the best they can as they react to the 'hidden secrets' of the town and the maniac that is stalking them. There's a crazy Sheriff (who does an awesome 'Dirty Cop' bit in the opening scene when pulling over the friends before they reach their camp site), a corrupt mayor, and a family that doesn't try much to hide their incestuous relations of the past. All these brief little backstories collide with our campers as the murder spree begins! Emily Haack, Jason Christ, and Julie Farrar are standouts in their parts, and director Wallace captures their growing hysteria expertly in several scenes that have a 'documentary, quasi-reality TV show' feel to them. When 'The Boy' (the name the town has given the killer) attacks, he spares no one! So don't think you'll figure out who will survive and what will be left on them by the end of this flick. One of the craziest scenes involves the Boy pummeling a woman to death in his room while a preacher on the radio nags against the 'evils of corporate video stores and the movies they offer on their shelves.' This is renegade filmmaking at its best, filmmakers that aren't afraid to bite the hands that feed them.Definitely one of the best microbudgeted horror flicks of 2003, THE UNDERTOW is expertly shot and edited by exectuive producer Eric Stanze. His photography elevates the flick several notches, from beautiful wide shots, underwater photography, and just a host of very creative camera angles. Wallace and Stanze collaborations just keep getting better and better, and THE UNDERTOW is the most memorable Sub Rosa Extreme movie yet. I look forward to what these guys come up with next, but for now, RUN, don't walk, to your local video store and rent or purchase a copy of this DVD. You won't be disappointed!
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Rating: 7.3 out of 10.0 - 3 votes cast total
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