Slashers have used all manner of holiday celebrations and location gimmicks in their bid to deliver greater chills and spills. Aquaslash, which unfortunately isn’t Canadian slang for peeing in the pool, unfolds in a water park with a suitably tragic heritage.
This French-Canadian production is so committed to being retrograde, so much an unreconstructed love letter to 1980s slasher films, it’ll likely leave you wondering if it was written and directed by a cretinous teenage boy who got his first chubby binge-watching video nasties and has ever since thought about horror as nought more than a trash aesthetic whose sole purpose is to appeal to our baser instincts. It’s a warped kind of nostalgia, for sure.
That it makes such creative choices, though, while offering zero irony or commentary on the genre’s sleazy penchant for having hot babes in skimpy swimwear, then having said hot babes in skimpy swimwear murdered, is curious, almost to the point of being enigmatic (but not in a good way). If it is meant to be taken ironically, then its dry sense of humour would perplex even Whit Stillman. Or is it really that case that director Gaulthier is a slasher purist fed up with postmodernist takes on the genre and wishes to return the subgenre to what he thinks are its seedy, uncomplicated, salad days? The jury’s out.
It’s 2018 and a bunch of photogenic teens have recently graduated from high school and want to party hard at the local water slide park. The usual shenanigans are going on -lots of drinking, lots of screwing, male rivalry, cliques forming, pervy staff. Only somebody is going around quietly murdering folk, and it just so happens to be the thirtieth anniversary of a bloody massacre at, yep, you guessed it, the Wet Valley Water Park.
Aquaslash spends far too much time with its bozo characters and uninteresting murder mystery plot, though the pay-off is worth sticking around for and at a brisk 71-minute runtime, you won’t be wasting too much time on this one. The third act set-piece is suitably macabre – boasting a kind of Dario Argento meets Final Destination inventiveness, while the occasional use of slow-motion at key points allows us to savour the gory gags and well-done prosthetics work. If only the director and writer had put as much thought into the rest of their film.
FrightFest runs from 28-31 August. Tickets are available at frightfest.co.uk.
Martyn Conterio | @martynconterio