A couple is foolishly trapped in an abandoned 6-meter-deep pool… without water, without ladder, without any visible way out. From the premise, Ping Lumpraploeng’s The Pool seems to offer a frustrating, claustrophobic thriller assembling the force of bad luck and the consequence of ignorance. It immediately reminds me to Open Water series (especially the second installment) where sheer stupidity and malaise jeopardize people’s life. While it sounds nonsensical and exaggerating, some of its suspense might work even better if the movie does not give away most of the thrills so easily.
Day (Theeradej Wongpuapan), a pool boy working for underwater photo crew, finds himself f—ed when he’s overslept on a floaty over a drained pool. He only wakes up when the pool is half-empty. Situation gets worsened when Koy (Ratnamon Ratchiratham), Day’s girlfriend, unknowingly jumps into the pool an hurts herself. Unable to climb their way up, Day and Koy struggle as the water level quickly decreases. When you think things can’t go any worse, the unexpected arrives—a crocodile. Everything that can go wrong, indeed go wrong; and that’s only half-way through The Pool.
When you watch movie, the closest reference you might get is the infamous Murphy’s Law—anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Lumpraploeng’s direction reflects the order of such law adroitly, going hand in hand with Wongpuapan’s leading performance. Every trial and survival scenes are carefully orchestrated and precisely staged, making audiences feel uncomfortable for most of its 91-minute duration. Some of the movie’s most disturbing scenes deal with bodily pain and the close look of it which Lumpraploeng highlights with visceral details. Wongpuapan single-handedly presents a convincing performance as a fool dealing with his own ignorance.
However, most of the time, the problem of The Pool is its script, penned by Lumpraploeng himself. The major drawbacks came from his lack of confidence to the tempting premise he had; his script gives away most of the story’s important elements almost too easily. The idea to start to movie in medias res is actually an interesting decision to bounce about, exploring more narrative options. And yet, The Pool deliberately starts it by unraveling the most lethal ammunition it should’ve concealed tightly at the first scene—complete with bad CGI. After that, it reveals exactly how the protagonist get stranded high and dry in the midst of a seemingly non-hazardous pool—by stupidity. Since then, a series of unwise decision and bad luck come around, fulfilling the Murphy’s Law concept. By that time, The Pool struggles to probe audiences’ sympathy, which apparently has evaporated a while ago.
With everything to lose, it’s understandably how The Pool chose to give away all the most surprising elements upfront—for the sake of promotion. Grabbing more audiences with the crocodile premise instead of the pool premise itself sounds more logical than inviting curious audiences into the pool full of twist. The character’s stupidity is the biggest turn-off, but it also its the movie’s most fun elements—similar to Open Water series. The Pool is a frustrating (at least for the audiences) and claustrophobic thriller which tries its luck, ironically, on bad luck and ignorance, which probes no sympathy.
The Pool (2019)
a.k.a. The Pool นรก 6 เมตร
Thriller Written & Directed by: Ping Lumpraploeng Starred by: Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham Runtime: 91 mins