The Pool

Starring: Kristen Miller & Isla Fisher
Mosaic Entertainment
Certificate: 18
Available now

A group of graduation students have a party at a secret location. When two of their group are killed, the others think someone has come in from the outside. However, the doors are locked from the inside, effectively blocking their escape, and all of the keys are missing. Increasingly desperate and bickering amongst themselves, the rapidly decreasing number of survivors seek another way out...

"Move away please, there's nothing to be seen here." That might be the only cliched line which doesn't turn up in the movie, but it pretty much sums up what's on offer. The Pool is a teen slasher flick played strictly by the numbers.

The apparent revelations have been seen a hundred times before. The discovery that the killer is one of their group (gasp! no, can it be true?). The way that each person is easily dispatched with a quick hack of a blade, but the last one proves difficult, even though she trips up every few seconds. How the protagonist has a phobia of water which stems from her childhood... Oh, please! The need for the killer to reveal himself near the conclusion, and to justify his nefarious actions; which in this case are because he felt isolated from the others and had had his proposition turned down by one of the women. Judging by that reasoning, isn't it a wonder half the male population aren't weapon-wielding psychos? Er, don't answer that one, ladies!

The perpetrator appears in Eddie Kidd's old black motorcycle leathers, and a mask which looks suspiciously like that of Todd MacFarlane's Spawn character. How he gets in and out of such close-fitting garments so quickly is beyond me. The weapon of choice is a machete, obviously borrowed from his mate Jason Vorhees. The old police detective is a cross between the dishevelled Columbo and the caretaker of the abandoned amusement park in the Scooby-Doo cartoons. He even goes around muttering about kids, but he doesn't use the word Pesky.

Seasoning the film with hip rock music ala Buffy just doesn't work here either. The complete sound mix ranges between whisper-quiet dialogue and Spinal Tap-esque volume 11 screeching.

Let's lay down a few ground rules here. John Carpenter's Halloween was the grand old master of slasher movies. When you thought Michael Myers was dead and he got up again it hadn't been seen before. Now nobody stays dead. The Friday the 13th films work because Jason went beyond being a vengeful human, and became an unstoppable killing machine. Scream was successful because it poked a bit of fun at itself and the genre. Scary Movie parodied the parody. Barring Chucky and Freddy perhaps, you can dismiss the majority of the hundreds of movies which have borrowed from these formats.

At the end of The Pool the defeated killer bursts Jason-like from the water and I didn't even make the effort to laugh. When the key character says to her boyfriend, "I know what you did last Summer", was the director telling us that this was all supposed to be a little bit tongue-in-cheek?

Nah, I think not. It's just a corny line.

Ty Power