Review: THE OUTWATERS, a found-footage film directed by Writer-Director Robbie Banfitch

The Critics Rave: “Haunting, horrific and harrowing” – “Chronicle of omen and doom” – “Unspeakable primal terror” – “Disturbing and awe inspiring” – “Horrifying, hallucinatory journey” – “Gorgeous hellscape of raw, nerve-shredding performances” – “On track to become the next cult horror movie.”

Despite numerous rhapsodic reviews, this reviewer has major reservations. Uh oh!

Starring Writer Director Robbie Banfitch with Angela Basolis, Michelle May, Scott Schamell and Leslie Ann Banfitch. Produced by Beau J. Genot and Banfitch with Robert Abramoff serving as the executive producer
Beginning February 9, playing in select theaters nationwide (U.S., Canada), including: New York (Alamo Drafthouse, Manhattan, Regal Essex 14, Kaufman Astoria), Los Angeles (Music Hall 3), Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, D.C  and more.

Succinct Plot Summary: L.A. filmmaker, Robbie (played by Robbie Banfitch), agrees to a campout with friends in the Mojave Desert to shoot a music video for Michelle (played by Michelle May). Other members of the crew included Robbie’s brother, Scott (played by Scott Schamell), and best friend, Ange (played by Angela Basolis) who is to serve as the makeup and hair person.

The friends start their trip basically uneventful, though there is an earthquake (an harbinger of things to come?) just before they leave L.A. Unexplained sounds, vibrations, and strange animal behavior occur after they hit the road. And there are occasional talks about nightmares.

The crew, when it reaches the desert, encounters mules that seemed to show up to engage in an animal-human stare down before they gallop away.  Eventually, the terror to scare the bejesus out of them – as well as the audience – shows up one night! Someone manages to make a 9/11 call. And so on. And so forth. Three memory cards found by law enforcement are the source-info of their plight.

Filmmaker Robbie narrates a lot of the film. Much of what he said and did and experienced – recorded on memory cards 2 & 3 – made little sense to this reviewer. See picture below. Hard to imagine that he would still be filming with a camera because of the shape he was in late in the movie.

Robbie played by Writer-Director Robbie Banfitch. Picture courtesy of Cinedigm

Cutting to the Chase: I marvel at the publicity and marketing strategies that have resulted in numerous rhapsodic 4-to-5 star thumbs-up reviews about Director Banfitch’s THE OUTWATERS. The praise, obviously, anticipates the ratcheting up of a buzz that could generate beaucoup viewers for the film. Essential elements of THE OUTWATERS in terms of plot, acting, dialogue, cinematography and editing, however, fall way short of that panache.

{The Found Footage, in general, according to Emma Kelly of, is “one of the most infamous of all the horror subgenres” because too often its “packed with cheap, stupid, and just downright bad” filmmaking.}

Courtesy of Cinedigm

This reviewer recalls the nominal, phenomenal found footage BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999), directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, loving embraced by many film aficionados as an “… excellent horror movie … filled with tension and the actors are excellent.” This reviewer, who, if he had been reviewing films at the time, would have given it 1 or 2 stars at best, marveled at the film’s marketing and promotion strategies which blew his mind.

It seemed as if the strategies, infused with some kind of inexplicable sway, primed the audiences!

There are similarities between BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) and THE OUTWATERS:  Lots of cinematic sound and fury signifying not much of anything seemed to signify a lot (though, yes, BLAIR WITCH was a commercial success). THE OUTWATERS trailer, despite its grisly fulminating and fuming, is about as spooky as a baloney sandwich without mayonnaise to his reviewer but I am willing to believe that it accomplished what the filmmakers wanted.

The waves of blurred, teetertottering, twisting-turning and flip-flopping tracking shots that dazzled so many reviewers resonated like waves of ennui for this reviewer over the course of the film.

Many flip-flopping tracking shots like this one wore out this reviewer. Picture courtesy of Cinedigm

The narrative was pitted with incongruities and incredulity, in this writer’s opinion, covered up synaptic plot breakdowns, shortcomings, contrivances and fumbling that just didn’t work or fell way short of what was intended.

For example, there were sounds like an orgy of mincing and munching of human beings underway as well as the gnashing of alien teeth – as in alien life forms – but the sputtering cinematography made it impossible to feel a scintilla of empathy or sympathy for the carnage that the characters were experiencing. And so it went.



Scott played by Scott Schamell and Ange played by Angela Basolis. Picture courtesy of Picture courtesy of Cinedigm

Michelle – one of the munched and minced upon – played by Michelle May. Picture courtesy of Cinedigm

Michelle played by Michelle May. Picture courtesy of Cinedigm









Director’s Statement

Robbie Banfitch: I’m excited to share this movie with the world. It was filmed in the dark and dust and along the sand-swept highways of the Mojave. I’m proud of what our cast and crew accomplished together and will look back on this shoot as one of the best times of my life. It’s been a longtime dream to make a “scary movie.”

I hesitate to say much about the film itself, so I’ll just say this: if I’ve done my job well, it should raise hairs and evoke chills, even from die-hard horror fans. I aimed for a naturalistic, slow-burn experience that will take its audience to a place they’ve never been, and then beyond. I aimed for something lovely, dark and deep. Scary movies, of course, are best viewed in the dark, so turn off the lights, make some popcorn and start the show.

We invite you on a unique, otherworldly voyage into chaos.

Banfitch, born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is an American screenwriter, film director, writer, actor, and musician. He attended School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and lives in Los Angeles. He has previously worked for After Dark Films and Greenpeace. His directing credits include THE OUTWATERS, TINSMAN ROAD and EXVALLIS.

Key Cast Members

Angela Basolis – (Angela Bocuzzi) is an American actress, content creator & sunglass enthusiast. Raised in Southern N.J., she went on to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. Angela is a co-founder of the sustainable fashion brand House of Correia and a digital content consultant. She lives in Florida with her husband Eddie and rescue dog, Cannoli. Her acting credits include THE OUTWATERS and EXVALLIS.

Scott Schamell  was born in Connecticut and currently resides in Los Angeles. He is a student of the mind with broad interests and an occasional writer and performer. He has previously worked for Greenpeace. His acting credits include THE OUTWATERS and EXVALLIS.

Michelle May – (Michelle August) is an American actress. Born and raised in L.A., Michelle started acting at 6 years old. She always had an affinity for the arts and loves performing, singing, and dancing. She explored musical theater for 6 years and went on to be a theatrer major at College of the Canyons before leaving school to act full-time under an agency. Michelle lives  in L.A., teaching yoga and pursuing creative endeavors in the music and film industry.

Leslie Ann Banfitch – (Leslie Zagorac) is an American model, makeup artist, and actress. Her makeup work has
appeared on numerous national and local television programs based out of the New York City metropolitan area as well as in several independent films. Her acting credits include The OUTWATERS, EXVALLIS AND TINSMAN ROAD, all of which were directed by her son, Robbie Banfitch.

Salem Belladonna is a composer, singer-songwriter, cellist, and yogi. Her distinctive sound has been referred to as “creepy pop” and “dark cabaret.” Composer, The Outwaters, Danse Macabre. Her influences span classical, metal, pop, R&B, bluegrass, and beyond. Raised in North Carolina, Salem studied cello at UNCSA during high school, before receiving her BFA in Composition & Cello from CalArts. Her composer credits include the feature film TINSMAN ROAD and two original songs for The
Outwaters. “Salem” means peace – she hopes that her music will encourage listeners to find the healing within our shadows.

Beau J. Genot –  Producer,  owner of 5100 Films, LLC. He has earned a distinguished reputation as a Producer and Post Production Supervisor. His producing credits include Now Apocalypse, Mysterious Skin, Smiley Face and KaBoom all by acclaimed director Gregg Araki, The Outwaters, Tinsman Road and Exvallis all directed by Robbie Banfitch, Sparks, a short film directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the award-winning film Closure by director Alex Goldberg and Spinning Dry by directors James Avallone and Elana Krausz.

He also produced and directed the Documentary Short Film Trucker Patti. As a Post Production Supervisor, Beau is known for his work on films that span all genres, including Dog, The Peanut Butter Falcon, POMS, Arctic, Colossal, The End Of The Tour, Infinitely Polar Bear and The Spectacular Now. His television work includes 1883, season 5 of Yellowstone, season 2 of Doll & Em (HBO), season 1 of The Practice (ABC) and numerous episodes of Zalman King’s Red Shoe Diaries (Showtime).

He has worked as the vice president of production & post production at After Dark Films and executive vice president of post production at Emmitt/Furla Films. Beau is a member in good standing of Producers Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild and the Society of Post Production Supervisors. He has lectured on Post Production at UCLA and Columbia College, Hollywood,



Gregg W. Morris can be reached at,