"Facing One’s Fears"
THE WATER HORSE is well made, exciting and entertaining, but it may not be suitable for young children and it certainly is scary, even for adults.
An old man in a pub tells the legend of the water horse, or the Loch Ness monster, to two American travelers. Pretty soon, the audience guesses who the storyteller is.
He tells about a little boy named Angus at the beginning of World War II who is fascinated by the water but who also is afraid of the water. There’s a scene of Angus going into the water and drowning, but this turns out to be a bad day dream.
Eleven-year-old Angus is trying to deal with the death of his father in WW II by denying it. His mother, Anne, doesn’t know how to deal with Angus. His sister, Kirstie, is one of the nicest older sister characters portrayed in film.
Angus finds a large mysterious rock-like egg on the beach and takes it home. The egg hatches into what appears to be a small amphibious dinosaur. Angus protects the creature, feeds it, and calls it Crusoe. A new handyman on the property, Lewis, tells Angus the story of the mythical water horse. Angus, Christy and Lewis hide Crusoe from everyone else, including the children’s mother.
The British Army decides to billet their troops at the manor house. They think that the German fascists may want to invade England through Loch Ness.
Crusoe gets too big for the bathtub, so Angus releases him into Loch Ness. Crusoe takes Angus for some very exciting swims through Loch Ness, but the Army shoots at Crusoe, because they think he’s a German sub. Can Angus save Crusoe from the Army?
There are some good messages in THE WATER HORSE, namely facing your fears and dealing with death. At the beginning of the movie, Angus is in denial about his father’s death. By the end, he has come of age and is willing to move on with his life. The movie also contains uplifting themes of family love, loyalty, honesty, and doing the right thing, even when it’s hard.
THE WATER HORSE is fantastic realism with no references to the occult, wishful thinking or the New Age, but also no references to God or Jesus, except for a few light exclamatory profanities. The movie, in fact, is like a dream with tremendous realistic qualities. Hence the subtitle, LEGEND OF THE DEEP.
When the little dinosaur tries to bite Angus, it’s frightening, and when the grown dinosaur takes Angus for an exciting swim in the Loch, it is dark and scary. In fact, there is a tremendous amount of jeopardy in this movie. One young man said this is too scary for little children to see, but today parents drag little children into gruesome horror movies. Aside from the exclamations to God, there’s one scene where the Army cook falls for the manor house cook. Nothing is shown, but parents will know what’s happening.
THE WATER HORSE is entertaining and well crafted. It would have been nicer if it had some faith in it. As it is, THE WATER HORSE is one of the better, most exciting and impressive movies of the year for older children.
(BB, L, VV, S, A, D, M) Strong moral worldview with no apparent Christian content but dealing with issues like grieving, loyalty, honesty, family love, doing the right thing even when it’s hard, and facing one’s fears; three obscenities and five light exclamatory profanities; boy dreams of drowning, dinosaur creature tries to bite boy, large creature shot at with heavy guns, dog chases baby creature around house and wreaks havoc, creature cut by glass, creature takes boy deep into loch, scary swimming sequences, man grabbed in monster’s mouth and almost killed, creature kills pet dog, and creature destroys boat; kissing, a reference to couple going off to have sex; no nudity; drinking; pipe smoking; and, light pacifism.
THE WATER HORSE opens with an old man in a pub telling the legend of the Loch Ness monster to two American travelers. The story begins with 11-year-old Angus at the beginning of World War II who is fascinated by the water but who also is afraid of the water. Angus, who is denying his father’s death in the war, finds a large mysterious rock-like egg on the beach. He takes it home, and it hatches into what appears to be a small amphibious dinosaur. Angus, his older sister, Kirstie, and the new handyman, Lewis, protect and hide the creature, whom Angus names Crusoe. Crusoe gets too big for the bathtub, so Angus releases him into Loch Ness. When Crusoe grows big, Angus has to protect him from the Army and the townspeople.
THE WATER HORSE is exciting and well crafted, but a bit too scary for younger children. It would have been even nicer if it had some positive references to God or Jesus in it. As it is, however, THE WATER HORSE is one of the more uplifting, thrilling and impressive movies of the year for older children.