The Pool (Swimming Pool) (2001)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||91:32 (Case: 94)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Boris Von Sychowski|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, Frequently throughout|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Beer anyone?|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
An amazing feat of film-making, The Pool is an intricate tapestry of dreadful movie cliches woven carefully around some enormous plot holes. It contains numerous laugh out loud moments which, had they been intentional, would have been very impressive. Unfortunately for the producers, The Pool is supposed to be a "chilling" slasher movie!
The plot (humour me - let's use the term anyway) revolves around the graduation of spoiled, rich-kid students from the International High School in Prague. I surmise that the school must specialise in teaching students with learning difficulties, because most of the graduating class appear to be in their late twenties. The leader of the group, Gregor (Thorsten Grasshoff), plans to throw the "party of their lifetime" and, in a mindblowingly innovative flash of genius, decides to hold it at the local swimming pool. The rest of the group, consisting of various Eurotrash and American bit-part actors, join the fun. All does not go to plan however, when they are stalked and - you guessed it - killed one at a time by an insane machete-weilding psychopath.
The quality of the acting varies from a reasonable performance from James McAvoy as Mike, to an incredibly hammy performance from John Hopkins as Frank. Isla Fisher (yes, from Home and Away) makes a brief appearance as a failing Aussie student, Kristen Miller plays the heroine Sarah, with Elena Uhlig playing the disturbingly masculine Carmen. It is impossible to empathise with any of the characters and you will soon be praying for the killer to put them - and us - out of their misery. Jan Vlasak growls his way through the film as a clueless policeman with an annoying habit of saying "d*** kids" at the end of every shot.
The script is dreadful, with stilted "Euro English" used gratingly throughout. I occasionally felt that I was watching a - cough - low-budget "adult" movie. Dialogue is delivered with all the emotion and skill that would be expected from a year five nativity play. I quite honestly expected the Eurocast to turn to camera at any moment and say "Why, Ambassador, with these Ferrero Rocher chocolates you are spoiling us". Product placement is in fact very annoying during the movie, and I note that "special thanks" are given in the credits to Heineken, Red Bull and (for goodness sake) Zippo.
The plot is derivative and overall the movie adds nothing to the slasher sub-genre. The motivations of the killer, quite honestly, do not go any way to justifying his (or her) actions in the movie. The "denouement" simply leaves you shaking your head and asking "What the...?". There are one or two innovative set-pieces in the slashing stakes, but these are not enough to keep the movie's head above water. This is the only slasher movie where I was barracking for the killer. The main characters in the movie were, in my opinion, begging for it!
Wouldn't you just know it? The video transfer of this movie is much better than it deserves, with no major defects to be seen.
The movie is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 Enhanced, with auto Pan and Scan information embedded.
This is quite a sharp transfer with generally low levels of grain. On occasion however, the focus puller appears to fall asleep, for example in the dreadful close-up of Sarah's face at 63:57. As would be expected, much of the movie takes place in dimly lit areas, and the use of blue lighting prevents it from becoming a dark mess. Shadow detail is reasonable, with no visible low-level noise.
Colour was satisfactory, with no evidence of colour bleed. Skin tones appeared quite natural.
MPEG artefacts were present, with some occasional low-level macro blocking evident, for example on car headlights around 28:43. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of slight telecine wobble and the Gibb effect during the closing credits. More importantly, minor aliasing was common, particularly around the shoulders of the actors and on the panning shot of the pick-up truck at 17:35. Film artefacts were occasionally present as fleeting white specks that were not too annoying.
There are no subtitles available on this disc.
The movie is presented on a single layer, single-sided disc (DVD 5) so there is no RSDL layer change.
The movie is blessed with a very good quality soundtrack. It would seem from the credits that a German-dubbed version of the movie is available. This disc, however, carries a solitary English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, recorded at 448 kilobits per second.
The dialogue is usually clear and well located, but the fact that the voices of several characters are dubbed into accented English does give rise to some issues with clarity. For example with Carmen's Schwarzenegger-esque mublings at 29:53, 35:48 and 50:56. Audio sync is generally fine given the limitations of the dubbing process, but there are some troubling instances, for example when the policemen are in conversation around 30:32and during an important speech at 78:25.
The music in the film is divided between an orchestral score and a number of contemporary Euro-rock tracks, with music coordination credited to Andy Ludyk and orchestration to Johannes Kobilke. Whilst there are no standout tracks, they do fit the "teen-theme" quite well.
The surround channels are employed continuously throughout the movie for carrying music and background noise. Environmental noises such as the obligatory opening scene thunderstorm, are very atmospheric and create an enveloping soundstage. The foley effects are sometimes a little overdone, with excessively creaky doors and windscreen wipers that can be heard (in a thunderstorm) from a distance of thirty feet! The panning and directional effects for the swinging machete are very good indeed.
Subwoofer activity was present throughout the soundtrack, particularly during some of the rockier music tracks.
|Surround Channel Use|
The disc is almost free from extras.
The menu is animated and carries atmospheric background noise and short scenes from the movie. It is very attractive and is 16x9 Enhanced.
The disc has a short trailer which makes the movie look considerably scarier than it really is. It is very cleverly put together around a set of "Pool Rules", but does show rather too much of the film's action set-pieces in my view. The Pan and Scan trailer is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of the movie is referred to variously as The Pool and as Swimming Pool.
In addition to the movie, the Region 1 disc contains a featurette, behind-the scenes inteviews and a photo gallery. Audio includes both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtracks (both in English) plus subtitles in English and Spanish.
The Region 1 disc contains more extras so it would appear to be the version of choice.
The Pool is a 91-minute "Mentos - The Freshmaker" commercial. Watch it for the ridiculous plot, the cardboard cut-out characters and the occasional outrageous set-piece. If you want to watch a great slasher movie, then try Scream instead. Think very carefully before diving into The Pool as it is very shallow indeed!
The video transfer is good.
The audio transfer is very good.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|