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