Written by: Adam Vaughn | July 21st, 2020
The Pool (Ping Lumpraploeng, 2018) 3 out 4 stars.
Jumping right into the season of “summer blockbuster” is The Pool, the story of Day, a film-crew member and his girlfriend, struggling to get by. After a big pool scene on set, Day accidentally finds himself and his girlfriend stranded at the bottom of an empty pool … with an escaped mother alligator! As stake after high stake leads Day to make crucial decisions, the only terror worse than a hungry alligator is that of starvation or dehydration.
This is a film with an opening scene I will certainly remember, along with the precise and well-presented thrills and clever (if occasionally unbelievable) plot twists. The concept is simple enough for the viewer to follow and trace the story from its setup to the climactic moments. I certainly see the resemblance and inspiration from movies such as 127 Hours, The Shallows and, most recently, last year’s Crawl, but The Pool has its own unique twist and presentation. The strongest element of this film is the setup, and the pacing it keeps in order to relentlessly drive the tension of the main characters. Interesting and well-timed splashes of humor also litter the exposition, setting up a real-world scenario for the protagonist.
As the film develops, director Ping Lumpraploeng (The Ugly Boxer) continues to raise the stakes and create even more tense and thrilling scenarios. Admittedly, this heightening tension progresses with more and more unbelievable plot points, which by the end borders on ridiculousness, with a very feeble explanation for the question of “would that really happen in real life?” But very much as in Life of Pi, where the viewer follows two simple characters (one human, one tiger), The Pool hones in on Day and the unfriendly alligator, continuously revisiting the man-versus-nature theme, keeping character development simple.
Another element of the film that is an unavoidable point of discussion is the use of CGI to create the crocodile. For a brief moment, “show don’t tell” comes into play, as Lumpraploeng introduces the reptile in a very Jaws-like manner. But a main antagonist who sits at the bottom of an empty pool for 99.9% of the movie is certainly going to stand out, either in a strong and powerful way or in a B-movie way. For the poor crocodile, B-movie rings truer to the design of this computerized foe. As far as visual effects go, this film won’t be remembered for doing anything groundbreaking.
[In Thai, with English subtitles.]