What Lies Upstream


Documentary / Mystery

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 86%
IMDb Rating 8.5 10 1449


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May 25, 2018 at 10:12 AM



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1hr 25 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by PurpleCrayon2014 8 / 10

A Passive\Aggressive Subject-As Told By A Fawn

Make no mistake, What Lies Upstream is an important film that explains in explicit detail the harm American citizens endure due to the water and land that we need for daily survival. The film goes to great lengths to show that the microcosm taking place in West Virginia is but a window of every community within the United States-that the representing Government and all entities associated with it do not work for the people and are self-serving and will disregard the well-being of its citizens for the greater good that is the American dollar.

Although the powerful message and visuals of What Lies Upstream can be contributed to Cullen Hoback(writer,director, producer, editor, stunt coordinator), what holds this film back from being a great film can be contributed to Cullen Hoback(narrator, interviewer). As previously mentioned, the subject of this film affects every American citizen and there are extremely dire consequences we all fill face, yet the mood and the tone and the delivery of Cullen Hoback is one of meekness-I was really hoping one of the subjects he was questioning would have responded with an angry, loud voice....as I anticipated Cullen Hoback would have shrieked and run from the room; alas, that did not happen. There was no fire coming from Cullen Hoback, no sense of urgency, all delivered in the same monotone voice for 85 minutes of the film. With each shocking revelation, and no matter how loud I screamed at the screen for Cullen Hoback to 'get in their face', the only mood that could be mustered was 'ho-hum'.

I highly recommend this film to everyone who wishes to solidify their belief that every faction of American government is just pure evil. I also strongly suggest Cullen Hoback take a few courses on how to express passion.

Reviewed by michaeljtrubic 9 / 10

Probably the most poignantly political film I saw at 2017 Hot Docs

This film begins with a chemical leak from a chemical plant/storage centre that lies immediately upstream from a West Virginia water treatment plant whose downstream residents immediately notify the world that something is wrong with their water.

This causes our gallant documentarian to head there and capture on film all the local politicians and regulators shouting into cameras "the waters safe! the waters safe!"

As you might imagine the path toward corrective measures in regards to environmental accidents is a slow and dogged one against powerful, vested interests, that excercise measurable control over all things legislated.

This film maker persisted and documented all of proceedings to the point that laws were strengthened to stop this from happening again.

Well done, kind of…

I'm not going to say how it ended, you might, however, have guessed..

At the premiere I had the opportunity to speak to the film maker and asked him about all of the hurdles he had to jump over and obstacles in his path and all of the giants he had to battle. I said I don't know how you could have persisted through all of this…It made me want to just cry.

His response was that yes he was frustrated and that he had thought a few times about self-decapitation (I've never heard that from a film maker before).

We should greatly admire his persistence and his 'stick-to-it-iveness'.

This is something all Americans should see to fully understand how much their government actually loves them.

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