Co-written and directed by Renaud Gauthier.
Starring Nicolas Fontaine, Brittany Drisdelle, Madelline Harvey, Paul Zinno, Nick Walker, and Chip Chuipka.
Terror awaits a group of high school graduates when a psychopath uses the unstoppable speed and turns of a water slide to his murderous advantage.
A movie called Aquaslash invites certain expectations, primarily that said movie will feature its fair share of brutality within a water-based setting. Yet while this micro-budget effort from writer-director Renaud Gauthier (Discopathe) has all the potential in the world to be a lean, knowingly dumb fest of creative gore, it’s an ultimately disappointing failure of both design and intent.
To cut a short story even shorter, here’s the rub. A troop of teenagers celebrate their graduation by heading to the infamous Wet Valley water park for an 80s-themed party, but a secret psychopath lurks among the ranks of kids and park attendants, rigging one of the water slides with cross-hatched blades which will mutilate anyone who dares take the plunge.
Aquaslash‘s single biggest problem is a simple one; the actual slashing doesn’t begin until the 55-minute mark, made worse by the fact that the entire movie, credits included, clocks in at a mere 71 minutes.
The bulk of the film is a charmless homage to ’80s schlock horror, evidenced worst by an overabundance of iffy teen melodrama featuring a frankly excessive number of hormonal young characters – too few of whom meet an expectedly grisly end.
Though the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to humour occasionally generates a chuckle, the “random”, almost skit-style japes often feel too self-conscious for their own good. And in a movie with a topless neon rave, a musical number, a ridiculous sex scene, a bizarre subplot with a small child, and a surprise dance-off, it’s telling that the most surprising thing is that several deaths end up taking place off-screen.
Despite some occasional mild amusement and a runtime that at least doesn’t outstay its welcome too much, there’s a conceited, forced quality to much of what we’re seeing; the hilariously bad dialogue and stilted acting lack the sincerity which could make this a genuinely entertaining gonzo cult curio.
While the ridiculous gore, often achieved with hilariously obvious mannequins, does sometimes strike the right note, it’s just not enough to justify the sit. In fact, the single most wince-worthy moment in the movie isn’t a grisly cut from the bladed water slide, but a more down-to-Earth, bone-breaking moment involving a lifeguard’s chair.
Aquaslash is, in fairness, clearly thrown together on a nothing budget, and is likely the result of a story being contrived around whatever location the production could secure. There’s a certain inspired shrewdness to the water park setting, at least, and despite its low-fi technicals it more or less looks like an actual movie, if hardly directed with anything beyond basic point-and-shoot competence.
Gauthier and co-writer Philip Kalin deserve slight praise for a final reveal that’s not totally predictable and some effective red herrings, though by the time the killer finally emerges, you’ll probably struggle to care much about the outcome.
Even with such a scant runtime, Aquaslash feels padded and undisciplined, because unless you’ve got an over-the-odds tolerance for inane teen banter, the juice – that is, the gory finale – just ain’t worth the squeeze.
Sporadic laughs and a mercifully brief length aren’t enough to compensate for a disappointing lack of aquatic slashing.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more film rambling.