Writer/director Matt L. Lockhart dutifully supplies a modern ecological subtext – the polluted waters of the bay no longer supply enough fish to support the watermen, who have been forced to diversify. Otherwise, this is horror the way they used to do it back in the Sixties, sleazy, gnarly and misogynistic.
The misogyny, in particular, is breathtakingly all-pervasive. While the three guys are vividly differentiated – Trailor's a lech, Bret's an easygoing pothead and Mike is a scowling alpha male – the girls are interchangeable and utterly vapid. The nice girl, Diana, is distinguished from the other two only by being even less interesting (and the actress playing her also gives the flattest, most B-move-ish performance.)
Moreover, there's a definite sense that the girls are second-class citizens. The indignities heaped upon them – torture, rape, being menaced with eels (don't ask) – are all recorded matter-of-factly, and no one seems to notice when Chrissy gets a spike through the head. But when Bret is injured, it's cause for a blurry slow-motion sequence and the sobbing of violins.
One ought to thoroughly disapprove. And yet … dare one say it? … and yet there's something refreshing about the sheer lack of hypocrisy, as well as Lockhart's fidelity to the shabby appeal of those old drive-in shockers. In addition, Lockhart does well with the somewhat flimsy premise, turning what is basically just a bunch of guys in sou'westers into a memorably dark and nameless menace. Without going down the supernatural route, he makes these tough old sea-dogs, squelching around in their wellies and mumbling their unintelligible argot, credibly hard to kill, and the action sequences are exciting without being hyperbolic.
Probably not a good movie for a first date, then, but if you're a B-movie addict, you might want to point your tiller in the direction of “The Watermen.”