Swimming Pool - Der Tod feiert mit
ZERO STARS/**** Image B Sound B Extras D
starring Kristen Miller, Elena Uhlig, Thorsten Grasshoff, Cordelia Bugeja
screenplay by Lorenz Stassen and Boris Von Sychowski
directed by Boris Von Sychowski
by Walter Chaw In an ineffable way, Boris von Sychowski's The Pool reminds of those old Eighties television teensploitation summer camp movies starring the butch from "Facts of Life" and the fascist from "Family Ties": poor production values enslaved to the straitjacket of rigid formula filmmaking, wrapped around G-rated titillation that at least in The Pool recognizes is the result in some part of submerged menace. Cabin date rape and teen pregnancy are represented here by the rude insertion of phallic blades through water slides.
The can't-die-quickly-enough jerks of Prague's International High School (think the cast of Grease 2 with "ya volt!" accents) decide to have a kickin' graduation party at a giant indoor pool--a sort of nifty set the wasting of which speaks volumes to Mr. von Sychowski's lack of imagination. Ripping off scenes entire from sources as varied though familiar as Scream, Pet Sematary, and Tenebre, The Pool is teeth-setting in its humdrum prudishness and narrative predictability. The dialogue as insipid as the performances (who the hell are these people?), the picture manages a peculiar fascination based almost entirely on its incompetence and the never-fulfilled promise that someone--anyone--will actually get naked before they're hacked up off camera.
Clearly embarrassed to be a slasher film (and who wouldn't be, with a killer dressed as a Sprockets ex-pat in a Skeletor mask?), The Pool fancies itself some sort of thoughtful thriller perhaps, or digest of youth gone hedonistic in the economic boom following the introduction of the new European economy. Right. The picture is akin to non-alcoholic beer and decaffeinated coffee--a thrill-less thriller, slash-less slasher flick, and nudity-less German exploitation film (that at least keeps its water sports), the worst thing about The Pool is the amazing breadth of its banality. Horrifically boring, the film has no real purpose for being save to provide a handful of unfortunate souls a few moments of outrage when they discover that they've just spent three bucks renting, of all things, a slightly more intense, ninety-minute Heineken commercial.
Artisan provides another soft 1.85:1 anamorphic video transfer for another piece of cinematic garbage finding its way to your DVD player for no justifiable reason. More clear than the majority of these Artisan titles, The Pool, truth be known, actually looks pretty good. Any bleary-eyed effects are most likely due to actual bleary eyes. A Dolby 5.1 audio mix loses nothing in the volume department but is suspiciously light in terms of depth of fidelity. Not usually a major complaint, given the setting it would seem more than appropriate that better use of echo and atmospherics would be in order. Fans of watermelons getting sliced, however, should love the boost given the stabbing noises.
The boldly advertised "Special Features" include an unpromising trailer and a short "behind the scenes" featurette that spends fully two-thirds of its time compiling clips from the film into what is essentially another trailer. The standard B-reel of interviews are, however, mini-masterpieces of unconvincing enthusiasm (not surprising given the quality of the performers), the bulk of which is given over to a poor dear who actually dies before anyone actually gets to the titular pool. A few attempts by the enfeebled cast at explaining backstory and character motivation provide the disc's only truly squirm-worthy moments. A Vaseline-smeared photo gallery and suspiciously padded cast & crew filmographies round out the package. Originally published: October 30, 2002.