Review: Shudder original ‘The Pool’ dives head first into the deep end.

A young couple find themselves trapped in a 20’-deep swimming pool with no way out—and that’s only the beginning of their problems. Starring Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham, directed by Ping Lumpraploeng.

Relentlessly unnerving, The Pool takes a seemingly simple premise and turns it into an elaborate horror movie. From one moment to the next, this story keeps you on the edge of your seat and rooting for our leading man. Theeradej Wongpuapan must have been so physically drained after each takes, not to mention emotionally. The script highlights how desperation leads to ingenuity. Minus the holier than thou moment around abortion and the sometimes silly looking CGI, The Pool is successful because it’s so frustrating. It’s like watching a slow form of brutal torture, but undeniably entertaining torture. Some moments will be difficult to watch. They may break you. But, damn, this script is strong as hell. I don’t remember the last time I literally gripped the couch and was sweating near the end of a film. This is a film that I grant full permission to yell at the screen. I have no doubt writer-director Ping Lumpraploeng would approve. The visual starkness of (essentially a unit set) that occurs for the majority of the film is in high contrast to the dreamy opening shots that will make you gasp. This allows us to delve into the mindset of the characters, it heightens the panic. The Pool is incredibly unique. Great writing and exceptional performances keep it afloat.

The Pool is now available on SHUDDER

 

Review: ‘The Beach House’ is an atmospheric chiller.

A romantic getaway for two troubled college sweethearts turns into a struggle for
survival when unexpected guests – and eventually the entire environment – exhibit
signs of a mysterious infection.

So I have to admit that the night after I watched The Beach House I had some of the weirdest dreams since beginning lockdown in Mid-March. A lot of horror films are incredibly formulaic, not that I’m complaining about that. Sometimes all you want is a final girl and a monster to die, there’s almost a comfort in that. The Beach House is not your average genre fare, and that is awesome. There is a quiet unnerving that creeps in from the very beginning. You almost can’t put your finger on it. You will not notice just when you begin to lean into the clearly underlying tension being built up. The dynamics between our four characters have a grounded and yet completely off-kilter foreboding. A nod to mother nature being a vengeful creature is something that figures prominently. While it has elements of Stephen King‘s The Mist, M.Night Shyamalan‘s The Happening, and H. P. Lovecraft‘s Colour Out Of Space,  there is most definitely something special about Jeffrey A. Brown’s writing and directorial debut.

As someone who grew up going to smaller Cape Cod towns, sometimes on the offseason, I felt that isolation of being the only ones in a neighborhood. I also felt the dread it would bring if something ever went awry. Liana Liberato is my hero in this film. She’s a freaking superhero as far as I’m concerned. I have been following her as of late in this year’s Banana Split and To The Stars. She is a force of nature, no pun intended, in the role of Emily. I guess the irony of her character’s major is what baffled me the most. It metaphorically and physically consumes her and oh man, do you want her to succeed. The script might be all the more unnerving because we’re living through a pandemic that could kill us if we inhaled it. Nature is pissed off and frankly, I don’t blame it. Strong performances from Noah Le Gos, Jake Webber, and Maryann Nagel round out our two couples who could not be more different from one another. While Emily and Randall do not seem to suit one another at all, Mitch and Jane feel like genuine life partners. It’s a plot point that will keep you engaged and aware throughout.

The Beach House highlights flight or fight from different perspectives. That will ring more true upon viewing. The sense of dread is genuinely palpable as most of the action occurs in what feels like painstakingly real-time. It’s uncomfortable to watch and isn’t that what we’re all looking for in a good horror film? You can watch The Beach House now on AMC’s Shudder. It’s a fine way to celebrate this weird summer.