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Water can be one of the most dangerous things in a horror film. You're not likely to drown in it, but there are other reasons to avoid it like the plague:

  1. If you fall into the water, in the next shot, you are likely to be a dozen yards away from dry land, easy prey if the killer is in the water.
  2. If you fall in, but are just a couple feet from safety, the water will not let you move forward, no matter how frantically you splash around.
  3. If the killer is in the water, either the water will be opaque until the killer appears, or we see the killer rising up, but the victim will be forced by the water to look in the opposite direction.

If this trope is in effect and the killer is not human, then the monster is often a hideous water-dwelling creature.

Compare Super Drowning Skills, where water acts like a Bottomless Pit in Video Games, and Grimy Water, where going into the water hurts you. Murder Water is where the water itself is actively trying to kill you. For water as Death Trap, see Drowning Pit.

Examples of Hazardous Water include:

Examples of Danger 1

Film

Literature

  • Michael Scott's "The Warlock" in the way to Alcatraz Island.
  • In Septimus Heap, Septimus gets pryed off the land after having been thrown into the river by Queen Etheldredda's ghost in Physik.

Examples of Danger 2

Film

  • Seen this as early as Jaws 2.
  • In 28 Weeks Later, the penultimate survivor in the opening doesn't make it because he falls off the motorboat; the infected are still about 30 seconds away, but he still can't reach to get on the boat. Even the editing looks shot to hide how close he was to safety.
  • A recent Jaws/Piranha ripoff about mutant sharks from a government experiment. There is this scene where a girl and her father are fishing off a pier, and one of the loose sharks jumps out of the water and knocks the father into the lake (actually, the shark leaps up, nobody reacts, and then the actor makes an obvious show of falling in). He takes about thirty seconds to get back on the pier, but it's obvious the actor is just splashing around, and not actually trying to swim back to safety until he's supposed to do so.
  • The Devil at 4 O'Clock tries to justify this with a reference to the water as "quicksand," but examination of it reveals that it's liquid enough that swimming shouldn't be a problem. The swimmers are quite obviously swimming in place—expected for the drowning fellow, who's blindly panicking, but not so much for the fellow trying to rescue him.

Literature

Video Games

  • Justified in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
  • Falling into turbulent water in the Tomb Raider series is instant death. One level also has a river with a current that prevents you from swimming and will carry you into a pool of man-eating pirahnas.

Examples of Danger 3

Film

  • In Hollow Man, Sebastian Caine (the invisible Villain Protagonist) drowns a man in his own swimming pool. The victim's wife can see the vic kicking around in the pool but not Caine, and doesn't realize anything's amiss until it's too late. (We, however, see a very cool ghostly outline of the submerged Caine.)

Live-Action TV

  • A CSI episode dealt with a killer who killed his victim by wearing scuba gear and waiting in the victim's (somewhat cloudy) pool. To aid him, he did wear a body suit that looked somewhat like the pool's bottom.

Tabletop Games

  • In Fantasy Flight's Descent boardgame the players battle their way through dungeons filled with Demons, Beast Men, Giant Spiders, and Chaos Beasts. Water is an uncrossable barrier (like a chasm). When players asked why there was no swim skill, the designer (in the FAQ) responded that there is but it's useless. All water underground is infested with Blood Squid, capable of killing any living thing instantly. This is also why there are no aquatic monsters.....

Video Games

  • You can swim in the creature stage of Spore, but going too deep means you get eaten.
  • In the sewer area of Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman must move slowly and quietly as Killer Croc is lurking under the surface. He'll still pop up time to time, but making too much noise will summon him more often.
  • In an Oblivion Thieves' guild mission, far from the water's surface is a giant jawfish. The water is opaque in that direction because the view is blocked by the small opening into the larger reservoir it inhabits. About the time you see it is when it begins swimming directly at you.

Other

New Media

Web Original

  • The Slender Man Mythos suggests that the eponymous Slender Man has a connection to water. Marble Hornets shows an entire tape being destroyed after a character takes a sip of water.
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