This fantasy movie is about 11-year-old boy Gunner’s coming of age while processing the imminent death of his mother. His father, who had served in the navy, was not very present in Gunner’s life until his mother’s illness. This family dynamic sets up the backdrop for Gunner’s adventure to find the Water Man, a mythical figure rumored to have healing powers. The movie’s thoughtful storyline and stunning visual effects hold interest for a young audience and the entire family.
Gunner (This is Us’ Lonnie Chavis) is a rapacious reader and budding researcher on topics of his interest. After his mother’s illness and a move to a new town, Gunner’s life became even more isolated. But he likes to bury himself in books and creative comic drawings. Then one day, Gunner comes across the legend of the Water Man, who was said to have “cheated death” during a flood. Eager to find a cure for his dying mother, Gunner wants to use the Water Man’s magic in resurrecting the dead. With the help of a local runaway teenage girl, Jo (Amiah Miller), Gunner journeys into the mysterious Wild Horse Forest in search of the death-defying Water Man.
Unfortunately, this trip coincides with the outburst of a wild fire in that region. Gunner’s father sets out to find the boy. While in a smoke-filled forest, Gunner finds the Water Man, or is it his imagination? This larger-than-life mythic figure has been searching for the corpse of his wife, hoping to resurrect her with a magic yellow stone. But Gunner soon realizes that the Water Man is tormented in more ways than one.
This imaginary encounter between the Water Man and Gunner becomes a revelation to the young boy. Gunner begins to see that death is not to be feared if you have loved ones around. This heartfelt family drama explores love, loss, and complicated family dynamics. (Rated PG, Netflix)