Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Aquaslash

My notes on Aquaslash

Canadian writer-director Renaud Gauthier specialises in pastiche VHS era horror – a mini-boom industry in the past few years.  This is a broader, more colourful effort than his grindhouse psycho picture Discopath, aiming for the tone of 1980s teenage tits and ass pictures like Spring Break or The Party Animal – with some elements tipped in from the slasher-whodunit pictures of the same era.

It opens in ropey style with a couple of lifeguards having sex after hours at the top of a triple water-slide in the Wet Valley Water Park, being slaughtered by a subjective camera after they’ve done that turning-to-the-camera-and-recognising-the-killer-with-an-oh-it’s-you-smile bit memorably parodied in The Man With Two Brains.  Then, the 71 minute film spends most of its running time on overheated soap opera and teen hijinx sub-plots revolving around a big high school graduation bash being thrown at a park which has a few nasty deaths in its deep history.  The unknown killer, at about the mid-point, puts a pair of scythe-sharp crossblades in the middle of one of the slides – setting up the film’s sole major gory set-piece, which takes place during a big sliding contest.  It’s a simple, nasty idea – but a bit slight to build a whole film around (though there are ‘80s slashers with less going for them).

The mimicking of rubbish movies is so on the nose that it’s hard to determine whether some aspects, like the running joke about people getting one bland character name wrong, are straight-up bad or archly bad, and there are so many horny, obnoxious teens and venal, manic adults in the film that none of them really register – when a bunch of people die, it’s easy to lose track of who they were … and some have been given set-up scenes about how killable they are but don’t get their come-uppance.  For instance, the instigator (Daniel Ivan Ossa) who sends a video clip of nice guy Josh (Nicolas Fontaine) getting it on with his ex Kim (Lanisa Dawn) and precipitates a freak-out from her controlling abusive boyfriend (Paul Zinno) seems to get off scot-free.  Incidentally, the jealous asshole boyfriend is the only person in the film who has anything like an arc.

It’s short enough not to be dull, even when shrill people are being horrible to each other and no one’s dying.  The mystery aspect is undercooked – and in lieu of an explanation one character gets to smile enigmatically at the camera as they reprise a flashback that really doesn’t sort out anyone’s motive.  A mid-credits homage to a particular seminal slasher is as much a non sequitur as anything else.  Oddly, one aspect of the film that clicks is that the school’s retro band The Blades, which gets talked down in dialogue, sounds pretty good.


Here’s the FrightFest listing.


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