Here is the first trailer for The Water Man, the directorial debut from David Oyelowo. The Golden Globe-nominated actor also stars in the film alongside Rosario Dawson, Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Miller, Alfred Molina and Maria Bello.
The story follows Mary (Rosario Dawson, saintly) has been diagnosed with leukemia, and her husband, Amos (Oyelowo, playing a more imperfect character), probably didn’t help matters by moving the family to Pine Mills, Ore. — at least not until Gunner begins to hear stories of the Water Man, a local bogeyman with mysterious healing powers. Whereas the other kids Gunner’s age seem to be genuinely scared of meeting this notorious spirit, rumors that the Water Man might be reanimating dead critters in the forest gives Gunner an idea: If he can be courageous enough to find the ghoul, surely he will agree to extend Mary’s life.
That’s probably not the best plan, but Gunner is desperate. He collects all his cash, grabs Dad’s samurai sword from above the mantel — not a bad weapon for defending oneself against ghouls — and asks a slightly older and more-than-slightly intimidating girl to show him the way. Jo (Amiah Miller) claims she has seen the Water Man, and even has the scar to prove it, although one can’t help wondering how Gunner hopes to reason with the zombie-like entity believed to be haunting Wild Horse woods.
It should also be said that Gunner is an avid reader and really ought to know better. Instead, he follows the clues to the local funeral home, where an eccentric undertaker played by Alfred Molina gives him a map and some essential backstory. Legend has it that the Water Man was once a miner named Edward Schaal (Ted Rooney), and that he discovered a magic stone just before a flood swept through town, killing nearly everyone but him. (Hence the water.) He’s been looking for his dead wife ever since, hoping to bring her back.
If this were a traditional ghost story, Gunner would have to assist Schaal in putting whatever tragedy tortures him to rest, but screenwriter Emma Needell is right to recognize that Gunner’s own anxiety matters more. Considering all the near-death brushes his journey with Jo entails, it’s more meaningful to focus on the boy coming to terms with mortality — no small ambition for a mainstream family film.
RLJE Films and Netflix acquired the film this year, with RLJE set to release the film in U.S. theaters and premium VOD on May 7, while Netflix will distribute internationally later in 2021.