Shudder’s Latest The Pool Wades In a Waterless Deep End
Thailand import The Pool dropping on Shudder today exceeds expectations as it entertains from beginning to end.
It’s a simple premise that shouldn’t be as effective as it is. The Pool manages to be a seriously suspenseful horror movie that is entertaining from jump. Creature movies aren’t usually my thing. I’m especially opposed to horror movies that build their premise on a series of unfortunate or unfortunately, stupid mistakes. The Pool, while doing that, didn’t make me mad; instead, I laughed and cringed in all the right places.
A young couple finds themselves trapped in an Olympic sized pool with no water, no food, and no way out. If that isn’t bad enough, a crocodile has taken up residence with them. With no one coming to help and a chained up dog, they must find a way to save themselves before hunger, dehydration, or the crocodile gets them.
Day(Theeradej Wongpuapan) is a struggling art director whose insecurity about his job and his success has made him build walls between him and his girlfriend Koi(Ratnamon Ratchiratham). He loves her but doesn’t think he is worthy of her. His career hasn’t exactly taken off and he feels like before he could commit to her he must have something financial to offer. She is an adoring, carefree girlfriend who loves him no matter what state his career is in.
The action is limited to a single location with a limited number of actors. Once the action starts twenty minutes in there are only two unless you count the dog and the crocodile. On their likable shoulders, the entire movie rests. Ratchiratham and Wongpuapan have believable chemistry, and Wongpuapan is immensely relatable even in some of his dumber moments. If we don’t like Day, the entire thing falls apart. He does one foolish thing after another with, by and large, the expected results. What was unexpected, however, is how much I found myself rooting for Day. Sure he’s a dope, but damnit he’s a dope I want to live.
Survival horror is a very specific subgenre. It relies heavily on tension being built and maintained throughout the film. It also requires a lot from its protagonists. Day and Koi have to throw themselves into one futile attempt after another. There’s a fair amount of Rube Goldberging that happens that propels the film forward. The entirety of The Pool feels as if it is moving from one problem-solving moment to the next. Oddly it’s fun rather than annoying. There’s a great push and pull where from every despair, there is a small triumph that allows the story to continue without making it easy for anyone.
It’s not a terribly gory film, but there is still a decent amount of blood. There is one particularly recurring nasty bit with a fingernail that is very effective. Another spectacular crocodile fight scene is gloriously shown with as much stalking intensity as the croc himself. Writer/director Ping Lumpraploeng wields shot selections with expertise. He shows you exactly what you should be scared of and then does it, typically in close up agonizing detail. Those smart choices make the film scarier than it should be. After all, the film is predicated on the slow-motion draining of a pool.
An enormous amount of tension is developed in the first twenty minutes alone. The Pool is one of those movies that wear you down. It’s an exhausting 90-minute thrill ride that will make you flinch, cry, and laugh. This is one of those movies you describe to people and think you should be embarrassed to have liked it. Nonetheless, you will.
This country-western song of a horror movie is everything you wanted and didn’t know it. Nothing comes easy for Kai, and even the end is heartwrenching. What’s not to like about a horror movie that never lets up, has an irritated crocodile, and an adorable dog? The Pool truly does feel like you are treading water. Eventually, your legs give out, and you drown, but not before you fight like hell. If survival horror is your thing, The Pool won’t disappoint. Get it on Shudder today.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.