This film is part of Free

Lonely Water

Terrifying public information film presenting the horrific consequences of playing in or near rivers, ponds and other water hazards.

1973 2 mins


Narrated throughout by a ghoulish robed figure, ‘The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water’ (voiced by an unsettlingly restrained Donald Pleasence), Lonely Water presents the horrific consequences of playing in or near rivers, ponds, construction sites and other unsafe areas where water hazards are rife.

What’s most disturbing here (in 2003 the film was voted among Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Scary Moments), is not the nature of the accidents but the perverse, sadistic enjoyment that the Spirit seems to be taking in watching them: the pleasure with which he anticipates the breaking of the branch; the telltale twinge of excitement in Pleasence’s tone when he describes a scrap yard as ‘the perfect place… for an accident.’ All work to make the events depicted even more terrifying and in doing so make Lonely Water’s grim philosophy chillingly clear. Driven by a RoSPA campaign aimed at reducing the number of drowning-related accidents in the UK (a government working party was established with this aim in 1973), this film presents a live-action and infinitely more disturbing alternative to the COI’s iconic Charley – Falling in the Water, released the same year.