THE POOL (2018 - Thai)

The Pool.jpg

Studio:      Shudder
Director:    Ping Lumpraploeng
Writer:      Ping Lumpraploeng
Producer:  Amornthep Sukmanont, Charoen Kaithitisuwan, Nitcha-orn Palakon
Stars:     Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham

Review Score:



A desperate man and his injured fianc谷e become hopelessly trapped in a drained swimming pool with a deadly crocodile.



How can I be hot for a smaller indie such as ※The Pool§ but only lukewarm on a popular theatrical thriller like ※Crawl§ (review here) when both films essentially adhere to the same single sentence logline? Both movies demand suspending heaps of disbelief as Murphy*s Law continually, sometimes almost comically, compounds the protagonists* increasingly punishing predicament. Both movies also include so many absurdly improbable developments, viewers run the risk of choking on popcorn every time they involuntarily open incredulous mouths to exclaim, ※Oh, c*mon!§

Any ludicrousness in ※The Pool*s§ ever-escalating setup remains easier to stomach due to its scaled-back simplicity. The killer crocodile threatening our heroes is an average animal, not some massively mutated monstrosity. The surrounding setting is an ordinary Olympic-size swimming pool, not an intricate underwater network of sunken Aztec ruins. The relative reality of ※The Pool§ asks less of its audience than any mainstream ※human versus chaotic nature§ movie based around epic action does. If you*d give a pass to a ※Deep Blue Sea§ sequel, or accept SyFy*s latest ※Mega-Something vs. Dino-Whatever§ with good humor, you*ll assuredly find exponentially more frightening fun in ※The Pool*s§ supercharged suspense.

After a film crew wrapped their shoot, set decorator Day stayed behind to relax in the location*s large pool. Day*s buddy warned that he started draining the water before leaving Day alone. But Day fell asleep on a floatie and now finds himself helpless at the bottom of what*s basically an underground cube.

One man. One big box. Premises rarely come more straightforward than this, yet writer/director Ping Lumpraploeng taps into a seemingly bottomless fountain of creative ideas to pile on more tension and trauma than any ordinary imagination could concoct for such a Spartan situation.

Day might be able to catch a cellphone vibrating closer and closer to the pool*s edge, but he simultaneously has a second dilemma of rescuing his dog precariously dangling from a tied leash. Unlucky timing continues when a pizza deliveryman arrives while Day stays submerged in remaining water to deal with the drain. Whatever can go wrong will, and absolutely does, from catching a belt chain on the drainage grate to losing a life-saving insulin shot. All of this occurs in just the first 20 minutes, before Day*s pregnant fianc谷e and an escaped crocodile end up trapped in the enclosure with him.

The number of near misses, catastrophic coincidences, and panic-inducing plot turns reaches Mount Everest heights well before the last act even begins. But ※The Pool*s§ metric ton of nail-biting entertainment is specifically built to be an escapist experience best enjoyed while shouting at the screen and persistently peeking through fingers covering eyes. Racing brains regularly wonder what could possibly complicate matters next, and are satisfying shocked when ※The Pool§ invents another wild way to raise the stakes yet again.

Several sequences are conceived to be particularly excruciating with the ordeals they present. Whether it*s fingernail tearing, palm flesh shredding on barbed wire, or body parts smacking on solid surfaces, gruesome sights and sickly sounds ensure every pop, rip, and crunch can be phantomly felt as they prompt sympathetic winces, hisses, and muscle-clenching recoils. Even as a film one can watch from the comfort of a couch, ※The Pool§ turns viewers into vicarious participants in the pain instead of passively disconnected voyeurs.

Matching the relentless aggression with which it puts Day through the wringer, ※The Pool§ regularly impresses with unfailing MacGyver-like ingenuity. I*m not sure if the crocodile is all CGI, an actual animal, or probably some mixture of both, but it looks terrific. ※The Pool§ also makes an honest-to-goodness character out of Day*s dog Lucky, leading to a heart-wrenching finale with an unexpectedly emotional wallop.

The only reason you*re hearing about ※The Pool§ now instead of when it released overseas in 2018 is because it*s a foreign film. If it were a big studio production starring Chris Hemsworth, Pine, or Evans, ※The Pool§ would have been a ballyhooed box office smash. Don*t let the subtitled Thai language turn your head in the wrong direction. ※The Pool§ is stylized with the same slickness as a Hollywood blockbuster, just without all the puffed up flash, pomp, and circumstance.

Review Score: 85