Ever since the Godfather’s of the slasher genre emerged (of course I’m talking about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Friday the 13th), we’ve had a pretty clear template for how to make a great slasher film...
...Just include a good setting, creative kills, sex and drugs, and you’re onto something. Newly released slasher Aquaslash has all those ingredients thrown into the pool, yet still manages to be one of the most disappointing splashes of horror in recent memory.
Written/directed by Renaud Gauthier (Discopathe), Aquaslash takes place years after a deadly event at Wet Valley waterpark, where the 2018 class of Valley Hill High is now celebrating their graduation during a booze and bikini-laden weekend. But enough alcohol to fill a wave pool and sexy car washes soon turn to bloody mayhem when a killer begins stalking the horny brats occupying Wet Valley.
Actually, that last part is a lie. It isn’t “soon”. In fact, the scariest part about Aquaslash is how long the actual slashing takes to get going.
The film does open on a couple teens getting knocked off in bloodless fashion, but we then spend roughly fifty-five minutes (of the 70-minute film), following obnoxious characters caught up in romantic triangles and daddy issues far too complicated for a simplistic slasher about murders at a waterpark.
Our main character (arguably) is Josh, (Nicolas Fontaine), dealing with the fact that his rich daddy, Michael (Howard Rosenstein) is trying to buy his love by buying Wet Valley from the owner Paul (Nick Walker). Josh also happens to be banging one of the lifeguards, Kim (Lanisa Dawn), who is seeing park manager, Tommy (Paul Zinno). Oh, and Paul? He’s cheating on his wife, Priscilla (Brittany Drisdelle) with graduate Alice (Madeline Harvey). Meanwhile, Priscilla is seeing Michael, and…
You know what? Even I’m already lost. But you get the point.
Aquaslash is a whole lot of sex and melodramatic relations, and not nearly enough killing. And you'll want these characters to die. Trust me. Gauthier is attempting to build character and establish a variety of “suspects”, but forgive me for caring less about a bunch of immature cheaters whose entire existence is based on reliving Spring Break over and over again like some horny version of Groundhog Day.
This dull slasher is one long, extended scene from Dawson’s Creek with a helping of American Pie, only the jokes don’t land, no one is likable, and everything is somehow way more complicated than it needs to be. I bet if you’re reading this, sexy teens at a waterpark might be one of your draws for Aquaslash, and I get it. Sex sells, baby! But I doubt it’s all you want with your horror.
With a title like Aquaslash and a pitch about a killer at a waterpark, you’d think it wouldn’t be too difficult to deliver what the film promises: killings at a waterpark. We’ve all been locked inside for months, only idiots are going to the pool and enjoying the summer weather, and us horror fans are looking for that cool relief of a dumbed down 80s slasher homage with fun gore. For whatever reason, Aquaslash is more concerned with coming off like a Girls Gone Wild ad campaign. In fact, I damn near forgot I was even watching a slasher film for most of the time.
The film doesn’t even manage the “stalk” piece of “stalk and slash”, leaving our ominous killer to have absolutely zero presence in the film outside of the opening and a brief moment later on. We’re given plenty of suspects, including any one of the above cheating lovers, and Aquaslash’s version of Friday’s Crazy Ralph, Conrad (Chip Chuipka), the pool cleaner, who isn’t nearly creepy or weird enough to deserve that title (which falls on the script here, not the actor). The most suspenseful thing about Aquaslash is wondering which shell of a human in a swimsuit is going to get caught sleeping with another next.
That is, until the finale.
The irony of Aquaslash is that, like many horror films, it saves the best for last, and its best is everything you’ve been begging for from the film since the beginning. During one long kill sequence, the waterpark turns to utter mayhem, transforming waterslides into rivers of blood, with gruesome practical effects that will make you think twice about ever going down a water slide again.
Had there been that sort of thing in the rest of the film, I’d be singing the praises of Aquaslash. Instead, the filmmakers underutilize the setting in just about every way imaginable.
Overflowing with dull character relationships, a complete lack of actual slashings and an unresolved “twist” ending that may make you want to drown your memory of ever having seen it, Aquaslash is a stinker better off letting sink to the bottom of the pool. And if it ever is streaming, just fast forward to the last ten minutes for that kill sequence. You’re not missing anything, otherwise.
Aquaslash is now out on VOD from Red Hound Films.
By Matt Konopka
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