The simplicity of a film is sometimes a hard aspect to accomplish. While some of the circumstances in “The Pool” are a bit exaggerated, its end result is not. One can look over many aspects of certain shortcomings including some of the CGI but the direction creating a sense of darkness where escape is impossible is hard to do in modern cinema and especially with this kind of construct. Granted this takes place in Thailand so the infrastructure and the mystery of it is an interesting progression for sure that works for internationally audiences. While the movie within a movie construct is deceptively meta, part of the film was supposedly inspired by the director’s claustrophobia of the space in certain ways. The creature in effect is not played overly in terms of behavior but rather very effectively in what could happen. One aspect of it pushes credibility a little too hard but again the concept definitely works well in terms of the logic it is propelling. It makes one think of those abandoned Olympic stadiums in Sochi, Russia. There is a probably a horror film waiting to happen there.
What this pool complex was used for in real life and how long ago is interesting. The sets perfectly integrate. More important is the acting. While at times overplayed, it is mostly silent in many ways which makes it not about subtitles, but the action of the characters. It is a primal play. The brutality for the most part is singular. It doesn’t come down to brutality until the end. But the certain sacrifices are quite intense. Very few films have that cringe factor since it is overall done with gore which has become desensitized in modern horror. Anticipation is the more psychological based horror. Here it is animal and human nature which can be far more vicious. Certain coincidences obviously again strain credibility but in all perspectives “The Pool” is its own beast. It is a film that works perfectly in its world but would not work in a remake. It works well because of where it is set but also the characters it places in the scenario. It is simple, effective and visceral without claiming to be anything more than entertainment with a sense of the real.
By Tim Wassberg
The essential elements of horror have to reflect in the unknown. Some pieces do it through a sense of mood. Others through gore. Some waver in the excess of metaphor while belying even more dark tendencies of human nature. “Lake Of Death” reflects these ideas in a persistent veil of childhood trauma which is not necessarily balanced within the story. As with some horror movies, it uses the concept of a location, usually far removed from the normal vein of living to act as a surrogate vision for these troubling issues that bubble to the surface and explode in a vein of action. The dark bottomless lake at the center of “Lake Of Death” again serves as a metaphor but also a literal abyss in the path of certain characters. A mute, almost ghostly girl who is supposedly visits the location with her boyfriend and another couple in addition to a paranormal podcast friend seems awfully convenient. The house and the lake also represents bad childhood memories though it is never explained who she (and her mute brother, who is also part of the story) actually came to be there. The humor leads way to mistrust but in many ways it comes off surreptitiously more circumstantial. The film reveals certain hidden structures but nothing truly unveiling.
What is more interesting is going on inside this girl’s mind. The reasoning being some traumatic element in her past are not explored which in flashback might have been undeniably impactful. The unfortunate aspect is that it all doesn’t really add up. There are some great mood setting scenes including her in a bathroom as well as on a lake set in extreme slow motion. Some of the imagery, having to do with the background, has some very Lars Von Trier depth of imagery to it. The psycho-sexual incantations are here as further aspects are revealed as well but mostly in a circumspect way without any explanation. The ultimate resolution is a horror film trope of sorts, more in a European sense. “Lake Of Death” is more metaphorical than literal but the intention is not quite brought to bear. With so may disparate strands including many details and opportunities (like the sleepwalking), the film had definite potential but moved away from it at certain points (whether because of budget or plot-wise) to find itself at an ended deserved but not really earned.
By Tim Wassberg