There's only one thing that can improve a pool party full of stuck up rich babes lathered in the lotion of white privilege, and that's sweet, sweet murder! The world would be better off after all, because the kind of people populating Pool Party Massacre are the last people on earth that should be allowed to procreate and effectively lower the collective IQ...
...Swimming at you from Terror Films and written/directed by Drew Marvick, Pool Party Massacre is an 80s-inspired slasher about a bunch of awful people attending an awful pool party who get picked off one by one by an awfully heroic killer, all things considered. Blair (Kristin Noel McKusick) has invited her (mostly) obnoxious friends to a pool party while her parents are out of town, but only one of them, Nancy (Margaux Neme) is anything but a snobby, boring, bleached asshole of a human being, so it’s no surprise when a killer shows up to inject a little, er, life into the party.
It must be said, before anything else, that the opening credits to Pool Party Massacre immediately sets the bar way too high with one of the coolest credit sequences ever, and I do mean ever! At least, in the slasher world. I'm a big nerd and a child of the 80s, so it doesn't take much nostalgia to get my eyes all lit up like the Who's from Whoville on Christmas morning, but holy Contra is a retro slasher game opening credits a good way to start! 8-bit images of decapitated heads and bloody knives are certainly the up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start cheat code to my horror heart. Sadly, this sort of awesome reference to the glory days of the 80s can only buy so many lives for Pool Party Massacre, but the film hardly ever comes close to reaching the same entertaining heights.
Most of that is due to the "characters", a word I'm using liberally to describe a bunch of potted plants with faces painted on, and that's an insult to the excitement of plants. Never know when you might find a caterpillar crawling on a plant. I don't want to know what sort of bugs the people in Pool Party Massacre are crawling with. But seriously, it’s a shame that Marvick clearly has a love for the slasher genre, and wants to bring his own style to it, because the unbearable idiots populating this film tend to get in the way of any sort of fun. All of these girls hate each other, to the point where I can hardly understand at first why Blair would even want to invite them over to her house. Each and every one of them except Nancy is the definition of everything wrong with privileged America. These girls spend the entire film (while still alive), either engaged in their phones, calling each other whores, making messes and saying there's "someone" who gets paid to clean that up, or worried about getting their hair wet at a damn pool party because the product in their hair costs so much. Did I mention they're all about as dull as a spork, and not nearly as useful? And don't even get me started on the guys, Troy (Mark Justice) and Clay (Nick Byer), both of whom represent the worst parts of the sweaty ball sack that is the world of college "bros".
These characters are such boring, unlikeable ass hats, that I'm not really not sure what Marvick is trying to convey with them, because these people are so awfully portrayed that there has to be a reason, right? It would be easy to say that Marvick is simply trying to poke fun at the stereotypes prominent in 80s slasher films, but if that's the case, then Pool Party Massacre misses the mark by a longshot by acting as if every single character in those films was either a dumb bimbo or a sexist prick. That just wasn't the case, because a lot of those films, like the Friday the 13th franchise, were full of likeable people that felt like your everyday friends. That was the point. If these people were my friends, I'd gladly lock them in a room full of rabid dogs and throw away the key myself. In all seriousness, between the porn quality acting and cringe-worthy dialogue (try not grimacing at such classic lines as "you keep your sperm away from my house"), Pool Party Massacre feels like Marvick's attempt to create the slasher version of The Room, a film so bad that it's good. Only it’s not.
It's as if Pool Party Massacre is that drunk friend at a party trying to get you to toke up and chill out, because we're only attending this blood fest for one reason, and that's to have fun. Despite surprisingly dull characters who do things in-between the bloodshed like spend an obscene amount of time discussing the meaning behind the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the film clearly never intends to be taken seriously. Pool Party Massacre is the kind of cheap slasher where beautiful girls rub lotion on themselves in slow motion, or fight killers in bikinis. It's the sort of thing that seems out of touch with modern day America in light of the recent women’s marches, but to the film's credit, it’s all treated in good fun, and it’s not exactly as if the dude bros are written any better.
Most important to any slasher though are the kills, and this is where Pool Party Massacre shines brighter than the sun mercifully burning skin cancer onto the cast's overly oiled bodies. Marvick incorporates a variety of hilarious and unique methods of relief from the incessant bantering of this insufferable cast. From good old decapitation to a shockingly inventive moment in which a character gets drilled in a way they didn’t expect, Pool Party Massacre doesn’t disappoint with the essentials for a joyful, murderous romp. Marvick also does something a little unique by bringing us back to the killer’s tool shed of death every so often, where he replaces a previously used (and bloody) weapon with something fresh and new for each victim. Doing this lets the audience in on the fun, giving us the chance to guess what weapon might be used next, and cheer when the killer finally grabs the one we’ve been waiting for. The actual effects themselves fit right into the “porn quality” category, with most of the blood looking like dirty mop water used to scrub the sweat and shame off the set. But with how much Pool Party Massacre revels in the creativity of some of its kills, poor effects can be forgiven.
Part of the problem with the look of the gore is the fact that Marvick insists on lighting every scene like a school photo. Pool Party Massacre is BRIGHT, too bright. Stare at it too long, and your retinas might start to sizzle. I get that Marvick is probably accounting for production cost by shooting during the day (night shoots are more expensive), but for the sake of pool party massacres everywhere, at least throw in the occasional shadow! Pool Party Massacre often does very little to build actual tension or any sense of atmosphere, so it never helps that everything is lit like we’re at the gates of heaven and not in the middle of a teenage slaughter.
Pool Party Massacre is the kind of party you want to pretend to lose the invitation for. The film never quite reaches that “so bad it’s good” mark, but for those who just want to turn their brains off and take in some eye candy, the opening sequence and kills may be worth staying for a drink or ten. Make it ten. You’ll need it.
Pool Party Massacre releases August 17th on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and TUBI TV with a wider release at a later date on Roku, Vudu and Vidi Space.
By Matt Konopka