28 April 2015



International Title:
The Pool

Alternate German Title:
Swimming Pool - Der Tod feiert mit

Germany, 2001
Director: Boris von Sychowski


After Wes Craven awoke the horror genre from a deep slumber in 1996 with the 80s slasher homage "Scream", everyone wanted a slice of the cake by making a film based on Craven's 'Slasher 2.0' formula (a bunch of beautiful teenagers, one or two masked killers, a school/college/university etc.) and dumping it to theaters or VHS/DVD. It all worked very well for a couple of years with a couple of decent and successful slasher knock-offs, like "Urban Legend" or "I Know What You Did Last Summer" - but after box office bombs like "Valentine" (2001) or "Do You Wanna Know a Secret?" (2001), the slasher revival was pretty much done.

Germany made its foray into the slasher genre in 2000 with "Anatomy" and "Flashback", the former a huge success, the latter only mildly successful. In 2001, another German slasher saw the light of the day: "Swimming Pool",
an entertaining run-of-the-mill teen-horror flick, centered around a couple of friends from the International High School in Prague who celebrate their exams by throwing an illegal party in a public indoor swimming pool, not knowing that a skull-mask-wearing killer is lurking in the dark, waiting to kill them off one by one with a big Machete...

Despite semi-aggressive marketing for the movie, highlighting the involvment of three songs by the then-popular German pop-punk-band "Donots" [the German trailer looked more like a Donots music video - see here!], "Swimming Pool" was a huge flop, killing off German mainstream horror (at least, for the next 4-5 years) AND the directing career of feature debutant Boris von Sychowski - a bummer. Of course, the movie isn't exactly great, but fun enough and definitely pretty enjoyable, especially when you're into these kinda flicks.

"Swimming Pool" is obviously far from being original and uses way too many elements from "Scream", like the opening scene where a Ghostface-like Killer jumps through a window to murder a girl who's just preparing dinner and waiting for her boyfriend, or one girl who's still worrying about the death of her father years ago. Even worse: at one point, there's a girl telling her boyfriend "I know what you did last summer." - I mean, WTF?

The acting is so-so, some deliver excellent performances, like James McAvoy ("X-Men: First Class / Days of Future Past") in his very first feature role, or Jason Liggett (who, according to Imdb, only appeared in 5 films) - some are just embarrassing, like Paul Grasshoff or the immensely untalented Elena Uhlig [at least, she's a hot babe and is allowed to say fun stuff like (after winning a drinking contest): "I win. You lose." - "Damn, you can really put them away." - "Women always put it where it belongs!"]
Not forgetting to mention the very first feature appearance of Isla Fisher
("Wedding Crashers"), though [SPOILER] unortunately, she gets killed off 26 minutes into the movie.

Ok, the soundtrack is shoddy (I hate the Donots), there's lots of really horrid dialogue and many pacing issues in the first half, but aside from that, "Swimming Pool" perfectly satisfies by delivering plenty of fun and entertainment, thanks to a stunning killer (cool masks, great movements), a few awesome kills (Highlight: the scene where a girl gets slashed while coming down a water slide - see above!), some terrifically suspenesful stalking scenes (opening scene in the villa, the sequence where the teens have to crawl through ventilation shaft...), and at least two scenes that feel as if von Sychowski actually wanted to pay homage to the 80s: a cool weight-lifting scene ("Happy Birthday to Me", 1981) and a suspenseful toilet scene ("Maniac", 1980).

I also love the stylish look of the entire pool, the gorgeous cineamtography by Notker Mahr who perfectly captures the majestic beauty of Prague, as well as some more hilarious lines ("You goddamn Argentinians! Always sneaking up and attacking me. I feel like the Falkland Islands!" / "You know, I always give the car a polish before I go, you know that." - "I don't know what you're polishing, Diego, but it ain't the car.")

Stupid but super-entertaining fun, a must-see for every hardcore slasher fan!

The killer is quite a brutal guy, but hey: at least, his machete is friendly!

I wonder why he has no luck with women...


  1. LOL! You made me laugh with your last line! LOL!

  2. Meh, it was okay. One of the earlier titles I managed to keep when I was just starting my collection, I didn't bother watching it until I found out it was a slasher cuz my country retitled it poorly: "Water Demon"

    1. I know. "Water Demon" is such an effing awful title ;)


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