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MOVIE REVIEW: “WHAT THE WATERS LEFT BEHIND: SCARS” Treads the Same Brackish Waters as its Predecessor

Sunday, July 23, 2023 | Reviews


Starring David Michigan, Mario Alarcon and Magui Bravi
Directed by Nicolas Onetti
Written by Camilio Zaffora
Minerva Pictures

Thirty-two years after a catastrophic flood destroyed the once-thriving Argentinian village of Epecuen, all that remains is a missed opportunity at making an interesting movie. In 2017, filmmakers Luciano and Nicolás Onetti brought us What the Waters Left Behind, an ambitious yet, ultimately, forgettable gorefest. The film followed a group of overly sexy documentarians making a film about the once-thriving villa and the people who called it home. Their cinematic ambitions are foiled when they’re ambushed, tortured and picked off one by one by a family of ex-butchers. Sound familiar? The film wasn’t merely inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it was a clear and shameless rip-off. Now, one Onetti (Nicolás) has returned to continue the story. Penned by Camilo Zaffora and with a boosted production budget, the follow-up, WHAT THE WATERS LEFT BEHIND: SCARS, unfortunately, treads the same brackish waters as its predecessor, leaving behind a messy, unbalanced, and yawn-worthy sequel in its wake.

The film’s setting seems like the perfect place for a horror movie – a naturally post-apocalyptic graveyard of destroyed and water-damaged neighborhoods, sparsely clinging to empty, filthy streets lined with barren, dead trees. There’s beauty in the wake of this destruction and the potential to have told a very interesting story about loss, grief, despair and abandonment. What’s delivered, however, is a run-of-the-mill, seen-it-before, bootleg-Texas-Chainsaw-in-Argentina torture porn (emphasis on the porn, as the film relies on a surprising amount of rape to shock its audience).

This time around, the story’s about a group of overly sexy rockers who find themselves in a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time situation after picking up, then pissing off, another overly sexy drifter. While the group of potential victims in this film are more interesting than those of the first, it’s not by much, and, sadly, the most interesting of these doomed metalheads is killed off far too early (albeit in what is absolutely the best and most brutal kill in the film). A member of the maniacal family even comments at a point that they killed “the most fun one” too soon. It’s bad when the characters in a movie must comment on poor writing choices.

As with the first film, all action sequences take place within the confines of an abandoned slaughterhouse, all but wasting the naturally terrifying and versatile setting of the abandoned villa. The film could have worked had it made use of this unique and visually striking location instead of tying its kills to a setting we’ve seen countless times before.

The narrative takes a sharp turn when the killer family members turn on one another. Suddenly, the victims are sidelined, and, as an audience, we’re expected to start caring about these monstrous murderers while they rape, torture, torment, burn and flay the hapless and helpless leads. With no one left to root for, there’s nothing left to do but buckle down and try to doggy paddle your way through it.

WHAT THE WATERS LEFT BEHIND: SCARS is now available on VOD, Blu-ray and DVD. 


Ricky J. Duarte
Ricky is a writer, actor, singer, and the host of the "Rick or Treat Horrorcast" podcast. He lives in a super haunted apartment above a cemetery in New York City with his evil cat, Renfield, and the ghosts of reasons he moved to NYC in the first place., @RickOrTreatPod