Todd Haynes’ latest film Dark Waters is a devastating case of real-life horror

Bill Camp (left) as "Wilbur Tennant" and Mark Ruffalo (right) as "Robert Bilott" in director Todd Haynes' DARK WATERS, a Focus Features release. Credit : Mary Cybulski / Focus Features
Bill Camp (left) as "Wilbur Tennant" and Mark Ruffalo (right) as "Robert Bilott" in director Todd Haynes' DARK WATERS, a Focus Features release. Credit : Mary Cybulski / Focus Features /

Todd Haynes’ new legal thriller, Dark Waters, starring Mark Ruffalo is a devastatingly real-life horror story about a corrupt company poisoning thousands.

Dark Waters is an incredible new film from accomplished director Todd Haynes. The film is loosely based on the 2016 New York Times article titled “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” written by Nathaniel Rich.

The story delves into the life of tenacious attorney Rob Bilott — played by Mark Ruffalo in the movie. Bilott challenged mega chemical plant company DuPont and managed to take them to court for more than $670 million in settlement money after it was discovered they were responsible for poisoning thousands of people.

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Have you ever heard of Teflon? Odds are, you’re at least familiar with it. Teflon used to be made with a dangerous chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid — also known as PFOA or C8. DuPont dumped tons of C8 into the waters and landfills in Parkersburg, West Virginia, causing unspeakable damage.

The only reason the poisoning was discovered was due to the bravery of one farmer named Wilbur Tennant. It was Tennant that reached out to Bilott and gave him legitimate evidence of poisoning on his farm when more than 150 of his cows died from mysterious illnesses.

Ruffalo and Haynes recently sat down for an interview with VICE to discuss the movie and the terrifying story behind it.

"“This is a horror story. A real-life horror story. I was floored by the story and just the enormity of this cover-up, how many people must’ve been involved in it,” said Ruffalo."

Perhaps the scariest part of all of this is knowing that 99 percent of all humans have at least a small degree of PFOA in their bloodstreams thanks to the mistreatment of the chemical by these companies. It’s a “forever” chemical, meaning it doesn’t breakdown, ever.

For many years, DuPont knowingly dumped these “forever” chemicals into the water supply, in addition to poisoning their own employees, including pregnant women. They were directly responsible for causing birth defects, ulcerative colitis, and a myriad of cancers.

Dark Waters
Bill Camp (left) as “Wilbur Tennant” and Jim Azelvandre (right) as “Jim Tennant” in director Todd Haynes’ DARK WATERS, a Focus Features release. Credit : Mary Cybulski / Focus Features /

What’s crazy about all of this, and even more horrifying, is that DuPont is still in business. It’s a billion-dollar company that continues to make Teflon to this day (supposedly with a less dangerous chemical), reports VICE.

Despite the fact they have been found guilty of infecting almost every state in the country, DuPont shows no real signs of slowing down, even with the lawsuits piled up against them.

While speaking with VICE about his film, Haynes discussed one of the reasons he felt so strongly about making this particular movie.

"“When you see what these people are capable of, how willfully they knew exactly what they were doing and kept doing it because they were making so much money, it makes you mad.”"

Studies are still ongoing on the effect PFOA has had on the environment. If you haven’t seen Dark Waters yet, I highly recommend checking it out. If you’re at all interested in stories about true crime and the devastating impact humans have had on our environment, it will leave you thoroughly chilled to the bone.

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Did you see Dark Waters in theaters? What did you think about the movie and the real story it’s based on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Dark Waters is now playing in theaters.