Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Bryce McGuire.
Starring Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Amelie Hoeferle, Gavin Warren.
Horror, US, 98 minutes, certificate 15.


Released in cinemas in the UK on 5th January by Universal Pictures.


Watery locales and horror go hand in hand with several memorable set pieces warning people away from the likes of storm drains (IT) and showers (PSYCHO). Who could forget how the water slide industry was decimated worldwide after the terror of AQUASLASH? Even the modern classic IT FOLLOWS concluded its nightmarish storyline in a floodlit swimming pool to great effect. For his debut film, director and co-writer Bryce McGuire also revisits the haunted backyard swimming pool, attempting to stretch out the premise of his identically titled short film to over ninety minutes with the help of a dependable cast and the backing of James Wan and Blumhouse on producing duties.


Wyatt Russell plays Ray Walter, an ex-baseball player whose promising career has been struck down by an MS diagnosis. Looking for a new home with his wife, Eve, and young children, Izzy and Elliot, in tow, they find themselves drawn to a large, affordable house in a nice suburban neighbourhood. The nearby school is ideal for Eve’s job and the children, but the large pool in the backyard is ideal for Ray’s recommended water therapy. Sure enough, the pool seems to provide instant results that go above and beyond anything normally and medically expected, but a number of sinister events shed light on a haunted history that now pits the family in danger.


The conceit of a cursed swimming pool is a thin framework on which to pitch a full-length film, and this struggles to bear the weight in nearly every way. The faintly ridiculous nature at the heart of all of this is also completely ignored, ditching any sense of fun or opportunity to let loose at any point. Instead, we are presented with a story that takes itself far too seriously and, as a result, fails to produce any results that stir the blood or shake the viewer in any way. We are left with a bland product that will probably be forgotten by the year's halfway mark.


There are a number of elements contained within that do work. Wyatt Russell continues to forge his own distinctive career with another likeable performance, as does Kerry Condon, following up the career high for her work in THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN. Their sympathetic character work deserves a far better film, as does Charlie Sarroff’s impressive cinematography that provides some real atmosphere to the night time pool scenes following his previous work on SMILE and RELIC.


The film's biggest mystery is that its creative team thought that constructing a film around something so flimsy as a cursed swimming pool and taking itself far too seriously could work in a full-length manner. This is a real possibility in a stand-alone set piece, and the length of the original source material plays similarly. However, attempting to draw it out in such a way as this only leads to a sense of boredom, one of the greatest sins that can be committed in horror cinema.


Iain MacLeod.



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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans