Starring Theeradej Wongpuapan and Ratnamon Ratchiratham
Written by Ping Lumpraploeng
Directed by Ping Lumpraploeng
Directed by Ping Lumpraploeng, the Thai-horror film The Pool is a rare one, a film that swings for the fences with pride. And though it doesn’t always connect with the ball per se, viewers get a wild time from start to finish. It’s a unique film in the way of telling one intense as hell story while also offering quite the head-scratcher. It’s as confusing as it is enthralling, and that’s something very few films are able to pull off, walking the fine line between serious horror fare and absurdity, all with a straight face.
Following Day (Theeradej Wongpuapan), a set artist working on a photoshoot in a competition-sized pool, The Pool does a great job of setting up the plight of its characters, even before they’re put in any real danger. Day’s an insecure one and when his girlfriend Koi (Ratnamon Ratchiratham) mentions the possibility of perhaps being pregnant, Day’s insecurities come out even more. The man refuses to even consider the option of bringing a child into the world, pushing a wedge into their dynamic right away. When Day and his girlfriend make the decision to go swimming in the pool (jumping in without realizing it’s being drained) we soon realizes that the fight to stay alive is going to be a tough one. What makes the film quite interesting, is how it could very well have just stayed within the being stuck in a hollowed-out pool and trying to find a way out approach. But one thing The Pool does best is putting its leads through only absolutely hellish situation after another (something we’re privy to right away, when an alligator makes his way into the pool as well!).
The premise of The Pool sounds like one hell of a pressure cooker and it is for the most part. But where it teeters off into self-parody at times, is in how it continually tries to one-up itself by putting Day and Koi in situations that, as a viewer, you learn to stop asking “How much worse can things get?”. Fingernails are broken, alligators attack, barbed wire comes into play–and that’s not even 20% of the almost torture porn-level of happenings that Day endures. Every time you ask yourself how things could become more hopeless for the film and its characters, The Pool confidently says, “Hold my beer,” and takes things up a notch. That approach is entertaining at first, but at a certain point, the mean spirited approach causes its storytelling to suffer. If we’re supposed to suspend disbelief when seeing attacks from some of the most suspect special effects this year, we need to be able to latch onto the characters being put into jeopardy while doing so.
There’s also an odd pro-life angle to the film too, one that feels a bit forced at times. But what’s odd is that it sets that up and lets it just go away, it’s as if The Pool was meant to create conversations and statements about human life, but never quite sticks to its own guns. While the film is entertaining as hell, the confusion that comes from how brutally MEAN it is to its characters, and the anti-abortion angle it so desperately attempts to put forth takes its viewer out of the film before bringing them back with a finale that, is enough to make up for the odd first half. At a certain point, you begin to think that there’s no way in hell Day and Koi will make it out alive, but by the end, it’s more about whether or not YOU will. The Pool is one of the strangest animal horror films around. Toss perhaps one of the first portrayals of animal suicide around and you have a unique yet somewhat flawed b-movie. Interesting to say the least, but I am still unsure of what it was I watched.
The Pool is currently streaming on Shudder.
Every time you ask yourself how things could become more hopeless for the film and its characters, The Pool confidently says, “Hold my beer,” and takes things up a notch.