A deadly water slide as the antagonist of a fun teen slasher – the premise of the Canadian genre flick AQUASLASH Sounds promising, but would be much better off in a short film or fake trailer. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Aquaslash (CAN 2019)
What would senior year be without a proper graduation ceremony? For some students this is the reason to celebrate their passed exams like every year at the Wet Valley fun pool. However, exactly 35 years ago there was a mysterious, still unexplained accident in this water park with several deaths. But this long-forgotten story doesn’t stop her from planning to celebrate one of her legendary huge parties with alcohol, sex and drugs. The highlight of the celebration will be a water slide contest. But none of the celebrants notice the razor-sharp blades in the slides. Soon the fun pool turns into a bloodbath!
Sometimes just a single, simple idea is enough to get an entire feature film off the ground. In 2002, Joel Schumacher followed “I imagine a thriller that only takes place in a telephone booth!” with “Don’t hang up!” David F. Sandberg invented a horror figure who can only move in the dark and made the short film and then the feature film “Lights Out” out of it. And if Edgar Wright hadn’t had the brainwave at some point to create an action film based on a pumping soundtrack, we would all have been sadly denied “Baby Driver”. Canadian director and author Renaud Gauthier (“Discopath”) also had such an idea: What if a water slide became the ultimate murder tool, so that those sliding in as a whole and then out again in parts? Unfortunately, his “Aquaslash,” which was completed in 2019, is the best proof that not every crazy train of thought justifies a feature film. Although the fun slasher, which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray in this country, is not even 80 minutes long, it is an extremely slow undertaking, the plot of which was noticeably designed around a single scene.
Priscilla (Brittany Drisdelle) has no idea that this day won’t end well…
It is not the first time that a filmmaker has used the backdrop of a fun pool, which exudes both a clean and holiday feeling, to allow a bloody escalation to take place. In 2012, John Gulager’s mediocre “Piranha 3D” sequel “Piranha 2” (or in the original, much more creative: “Piranha 3DD”) also took place in such a swimming pool idyll, in which, just like in “Aquaslash”, a group of party-loving teenagers were drinking alcohol -, sex and party escapades before the big meal breaks out on them in the form of bloodthirsty piranhas. Admittedly, there is something charming about the image of a swimming pool filled with crystal-clear water that gradually turns blood red. And since “Piranha 2” not only made no secret of its absurd premise, but also went to great lengths to present its audience with good-looking men and women with eaten limbs as quickly as possible, the slasher sequel at least worked as an entertaining one-off pleasure. The trailer for “Aquaslash” also suggests this – the PR people have done a great job there. After all, they have selected exactly the images for their preview that you as a viewer would want to see when you learn the basic idea of “Aquaslash”: In a film about a water slide that divides its users, you want images of exactly this scenario see.
“’Aquaslash’ is the best proof that not every crazy idea justifies a feature film.”
But while the trailer largely consists of exactly these images, the feature film, which is just 71 minutes long, hardly has any of them to offer. Instead, it takes a solid hour before things get bloody in “Aquaslash”. Renaud Gauthier, who was also responsible for the script, spends the sixty minutes beforehand introducing characters that oscillate between obnoxious and uninteresting, which would work as cannon fodder for a horror production structured like a “Final Destination” film (“Aquaslash” was even released in Russia). marketed under the title “Final Destination: Waterpark”); Ultimately, it’s far less about rooting for the characters than it is about watching them fall victim to the most creative kills possible. But until these same kills occur, they have to carry a plot that hardly deserves the term “story”. Renaud Gauthier introduces characters in an uncoordinated manner and gives them half-baked interpersonal connections, so that he can claim love triangles, affairs and friendships here and there. But Gauthier is not interested enough in any of them as the story progresses to detach himself narratively from their absolute irrelevance. Everything wouldn’t be as bad if “Aquaslash” were what the film title promises. But here you have to suffer through a tough 60 minutes to get the pay-off that the premise promises.
The water slide is waiting for its victims.
In terms of tricks, it’s quite a trick when the party-loving teens fall victim to the killer slide in an explicitly bloody way: two oversized knives act like a vegetable cutter and cut up the rushing victims, while the water transports their remains into the collecting basin. When the water turns bright red in no time, “Aquaslash” is, for a brief moment, exactly what the title and trailer suggest. Especially because the largely plastic trick effects of the Blood Brothers (who were also responsible for the effects of “Turbo Kid”, among others) conjure up a feeling of eighties slasher cinema that is rarely seen these days. But unfortunately Renaud Gauthier fails to build up the appropriate tension in advance of this one (and only!) scene. “Aquaslash” languishes until the finale without any sense of atmosphere and doesn’t even manage to stir up positive expectations. Although some first-person kills of even less important characters pave the way to the waterslide carnage, they seem rather unintentionally comical due to the amateurish staging. What remains in the end is this one nice idea and the realization that not all of them are suitable for a feature film.
“When the water turns blood red in no time, “Aquaslash” is for a brief moment exactly what the title and trailer suggest.”
Conclusion: “Aquaslash” is quite a deception. The carnage that was also conjured up by the USA subline “From Fun Bath to Blood Bath” actually comes, but only after an hour. And then it’s over in such a flash that the pay-off of the acidic sixty minutes beforehand can hardly be justified. Our tip: It’s better to watch Alexandre Aja’s “Piranha” again.
“Aquaslash” is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.