Artisan // 2001 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // October 18th, 2002
Evil has surfaced.
It's graduation day at the DeVry Institute for Advanced Eurotrash. Tradition has it that the most Teutonic of the swarthy seniors plans a super secret extra special surprise exercise in binge drinking for all his fellow faux foreigners. So several members of the school's Model United Nations team gather together to simultaneously kill their livers and act blasé. Herr Greg takes them to the only aquapark in Prague that looks like Tony Montana designed it. It's plush. It's got a full bar. It's got a bitchin' water slide. And it comes complete with its own homicidal maniac. Seems someone is offing the grating nouveau riche of Europe, and since this group of grads is the most irritating thing since Soviet underpants, our slayer has found his buffet. One by one our macheted masked maniac pokes and prods the pampered pals and when the cops get hawkwind of the mass murdering, they place Special Agent Charles Bukowski in charge of the case. Will der Commissar show up in time to save the spoiled brats, or will we be stuck with fifteen Falco fans drinking, diving, and dying to the strains of "Rock Me Amadeus: 2002"?
Many words could be used to describe The Pool. Refreshing. Inviting. Stimulating. Unfortunately, they would only be applicable to the kind of cement pond that actually holds water, since this motion picture named after a man made swimmin' hole is about as invigorating as a hernia, tempting as pyorrhea, and inspires your eyelids to slam shut. The Pool is as dull as German wit and as weak as French backbone. [Editor's Note: Thanks to that comment, the French just surrendered.] There are no three-dimensional characters here, just body types and shapes meant to represent the international cornucopia of vitcimology. There is no suspense, no nudity (who made this film? Polish nuns?), and a complete lack of serious gore. Oh sure, wimpy red liquid runs riot over and into everything, but just like cabbage broth or techno, it's thin and uninteresting. The setting is indeed novel, but Italian horror has for years been situating massacres in all manners of innovative places, like brothels, museums, and children's puppet shows. It's just difficult to envision Michael Myers tramping around this Iron Curtain interpretation of Wet-N-Wild hoping to merrily butcher a few dozen members of Mummenshanz. While the identity of the killer is a joke, since it turns out to be the only person constantly trying to stand out in the crowd, it's the level of law enforcement in the Czech Republic that represents the film's one true mystery. Where did they get their training? Columbia? Corpses are piling up like layers in a strudel, and they send Colombo's seedy, unkempt half asleep Slavic cousin to lubricate the crime scenes with his hair oil?
There isn't much Artisan can do with The Pool except put it out there in the best digital version possible and hope that there is a lifeguard present to avoid lawsuits. And the transfer here is fairly good. We get a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image that is a little soft, but otherwise flawless. The Dolby Digital soundtrack, in both 5.1 and 2.0 surround, is adequate, if not a tad shallow. You'd figure that with a cavernous, echoing location like a swimming complex you'd get a little more separation and distance, but no. A highlight on this otherwise jaundiced DVD Jacuzzi is a set of behind the scenes interviews which finds a few befuddled members of the cast struggling to describe their characters and laughing nervously when justifying the film's storyline. Not even a fairly straightforward trailer, a cast and crew filmography (pay close attention to the body of work this talentless troupe has cobbled together), or a series of still photos that look more like ads for Aquavit than a horror film, can keep this waterlogged Scream variation from turning into a tedious Frietag der 13th: Jason Wears Water Wings. Watching The Pool is like taking a head first dive into a backyard mud puddle filled with some kind of stagnant liquid. Here's hoping that someone comes along, drains this useless people pond, and pays Tony Hawk to set up Croatia's first skatepark, post haste. After all, Slav skate rats need a place to play too.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Behind the Scenes Interviews
* Photo Gallery
* Cast and Crew Selected Filmographies