the review site with a difference since 1999
Reviews Interviews Articles Apps About

Artisan Home Entertainment presents

The Pool (2002)

"Nobody's saying it, but this is the day for us. Our school lives ended. Most of us will probably never see each other again after tonight"- Sarah (Kristen Miller)

Stars: Kristen Miller, Elena Uhlig, Thorsten Grasshoff
Other Stars: Cordelia Bugeja, James McAvoy, Jonah Lotan, John Hopkins, Isla Fisher, Jason Liggett, Maximillian Grill, Bryan Carney, Jan Vlasák, Marek Libert
Director: Boris Von Sychowski

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence/gore, language, substance abuse and brief sexuality/nudity
Run Time: 01h:31m:32s
Release Date: 2002-09-24
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ C+B+C+ C+


DVD Review

The success of the Scream trilogy ushered in a resurgence in the genre of dead teenager movies, with I Know What You Did Last Summer (and its sequel), Urban Legend (and its sequel), and of course the never-say-die grandaddy of them all: Jason from the Friday the 13th series. Most (all?) of these films offer little in the way of substance, and are really just an excuse for wanton death as some masked killer makes mincemeat, one at a time, of a group of teens.

The Pool is the directorial debut from Boris Von Sychowski, and its entire premise is built on the shallow Scream framework, meaning that we have another machete-wielding wacko geared up to murder a group of unsuspecting teenagers. Von Sychowski even opens his film with a scene that could have played as the open in any of the Scream films, and it is so dead-on in its precision that I wasn't sure if it was meant as an homage, a parody or outright plagarism.

The threadbare premise finds a mixed ethnic bag of graduates from the International High School of Prague gathering at an illegal after-party "party," to be held at a massive indoor pool that they have broken into. The pool building is an elaborate structure, full of twisting water slides, cozy private pools, fully stocked bars, and apparently more twisting, turning passageways than a cornfield maze. It's not long before a skull-masked killer, adorned with an unnaturally sharp machete, begins slicing and dicing through the student body. The script is peppered with red herrings (of course), and by the time Von Sychowski reveals the killer's identity it was so anti-climactic that I had to laugh.

"Maybe he's disturbed."
"Disturbed? He's f***** up!"

The good news is that The Pool is actually much better than Scream and its ilk, and while there isn't anything particularly creative or fresh here, it is assembled very well, with the backdrop of Prague giving the film a decidedly original look. Even when the killer is busy hacking up bodies, Von Sychowski frames the violence, and the preceding stalking, with enough palpable suspense to make the whole thing actually enjoyable. If nothing else, The Pool has earned a place in hack 'em up history with a memorable boy-that-must-really-really-hurt water slide scene that is easily the film's signature sequence.

If you like this type of film, The Pool is a good-looking clone in a predictable genre. Bear in mind that there isn't anything new here, sp I'm really shocked to admit it that it was actually fun to watch.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: I was really pleased with the sharp 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from Artisan on this one; it's virtually blemish-free and I wasn't aware of any glaring compression issue or source print flaws. Much of the film takes place in the dimly lit pool building, and the black levels are spot on for the duration. Colors look very good, and there are plenty of rich, icy blues that are reproduced well. With all of the exposed skin on display, fleshtones also looked excellent.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: A pair of interchangeable mediocre audio tracks, in 5.1 and 2.0 surround, turn this disc into a somewhat lackluster experience aurally. I really could discern no difference between the two tracks, and near total absence of rear channel activity (save for one or two very minor examples) cobbles what could have been a very involving surround experience, what with all the water and so on. Sure, the dialogue is clean and well-mixed, but there just isn't any depth at all to give The Pool the added dimension that could have made this much, much more fun to watch.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+ 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Not much to woo-hoo about in the supplement section. Artisan has included a quickie Behind the Scenes piece (10m:36s), that is primarily clips from the film interspersed with a few fluffy comments from cast members Kristen Miller, Isla Fisher, John Hopkins and James McAvoy. There are little actual behind-the-scenes shots in this segment, though it does show the setup for the film's cringe-inducing waterslide scene. A gallery of 27 stills is also provided.

The disc is split into 16 chapters, and also includes the standard issue theatrical trailer, as well as subtitles (English and Spanish).

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

As far as genre clones go, The Pool manages to succeed in its execution as yet another in the long line of Scream/I Know What You Did Last Summer copycats. There isn't an original idea to be found in the whole 92 minutes, but the film does have a far more well-crafted look to it than does many of its contemporaries.

Even with a silly, remarkably uninteresting payoff, The Pool is recommended for fans of the mindless hack 'em up genre.

Rich Rosell 2002-09-23