Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Water Park Gone Dark: Aquaslash (2019)
Starring: Brittany Drisdelle, Lanisa Dawn, Samantha Hodhod
When it comes to water park-set horror movies, you normally would expect aquatic life as the main baddie coming from the likes of Jaws 3-D (1983) or even that atrocious Piranha 3DD (2012). So when Aquaslash (2019) came about and markets itself as a murder mystery set in an old water park, color me intrigued! (Especially since there really isn't much water park horror movies to begin with...)
The scene starts with a Friday The 13th (1980) homage as two employees of Wet Valley Water Park decide to pork at the top of a water slide, only to be confronted by someone wielding a machete. Dude falls to his death and hits a beam, girl gets her limbs and head lopped off.
Morning comes and so do the teens of Valley Hills High School, there to celebrate an 80s-style senior year graduation party. Amidst the hormones and booze, we follow a twisty love triangle with aspiring musician Josh (Nicolas Fontaine) rekindling his love for his ex, Kim (Lanisa Dawn), who in turn works at the park and is in a rather stressed relationship with fellow employee, the ill-tempered Tommy (Paul Zinno). If that isn't loopy enough, we also have Josh's wealthy father (Howard Rosenstein) appearing in the park to try make amends with his son, given pops isn't busy cheating with the park owner’s wife whose own husband is also banging one of the lifeguards.
Evening soon comes and after a musical performance ends with a brawl, Tommy is last seen hulking it out and threatening to get everyone, while Josh learns that his dad plans on purchasing the park and offers him a rather sizable slice of the deal, upsetting some employees who caught wind of this. It's definitely bad news galore that night, so much so that somebody goes to express their discontent to the extreme by tampering some slides with a sizable pair of blades. The same slides to be used the following day for a supposedly fun competition among the graduates...
As a slasher, Aquaslash approached its story with enough familiar footing at first, before curving the turn to unexpected directions that, impressively, still delivers a good bodycount. Like many teen slashers, the movie wanted to play a bit with its admittedly flawed characters, build as many red herrings as possible from sappy love triangles to the park's own dark pasts to make most of the main casts a possible suspect. The movie, in turn, lacks any genuinely likable characters to balance everything out and the matter that the resulting drama nearly takes up the whole film sadly meant the pacing can crawl to a slight drawl and often dry of teen bloodshed.
In fact, it isn't until the last third of the run when Aquaslash remembers its a horror movie and that it needs to do some killing. For a film spanning an hour and eleven minutes only, this is a worryingly tight space to squeeze in anything workable but, with the help of Blood Brothers FX, the movie still pulls it off by practically not holding back on the nasty shit. The final act may lack a visible living villain like your typical slasher finale, but the resulting gory chaos that painted the pool red and chunky with diced body parts spells the same gruesome slasher tone, only on a more novel note. It's the kind upheaval this sub-genre needs and I am glad this movie did it quite effectively!
Without a doubt, Aquaslash (2019) isn't for everyone as those looking for straight-forward slasher mayhem will instead find Porky's (1981) -inspired screwball perviness here, only with a gory end. Personally, though, while the awkward romantic sub-plot and unlikable dynamics can get tedious and annoying, the innovative payoff makes it all worthwhile and I will admit that I did get invested on where the story was heading to. It's far from a game changer, but you got to appreciate the effort, at least.
1 male falls off a water slide, head cracked against a beam
1 female hacked limbless and decapitated with a machete
1 male found dead with a throat cut (flashback)
1 male repeatedly shot, later found with wrist cuts
1 female diced through a bladed water slide
2 females diced through a bladed water slide
1 male decapitated through a bladed water slide
2 females diced through a bladed water slide offcamera
1 male found dead
1 male diced through a bladed water slide offcamera