"Blood is slicker than water"
The graduating students of Valley Hill High head off to the Wet Valley Water Park for the annual leaving celebrations, where a weekend of drinking, debauchery and water sports are the order of the day. However, they don’t realise that someone at the park has other plans for them, which involve a nasty surprise in the resort’s main attraction – a huge triple-chute water slide.
When the trailer hit, I must admit feeling a little excited – the potential for a nice throwback 80s slasher in the decent and underused setting of a water park had me eagerly anticipating the arrival of Aquaslash. After all, I can only recall the trashy sequel, Piranha 3DD, being set in such a location. The potential is limitless. But even before viewing, I noticed the criminal seventy-one-minute running time and knew that it spelt trouble (even worse, after watching it I realised there were five minutes of credits too, meaning this has a running time of little over an hour!). Even worse, Aquaslash desperately struggles to fill that sixty minutes too.
Aquaslash is clearly built up around the film’s main, well only, set piece – that of the water slide massacre. I’m sure anyone who has been on a big outdoor water slide would have some degree of trepidation at wondering what may lurk half-way down the course, be it a crack or gap in the piping, some sort of Homer Simpson-esque blockage of the tunnel or the urban legend of hidden razorblades sticking out from the plastic. But Aquaslash makes this novel concept tediously dull and it does it easily by making this one concept the entire focus of the film. There’s no continual slashing throughout the film here, just a pair of prologue kills and then a slow, plodding meander through some truly awful character-building until we get to the piece-de-resistance. And then the film wraps itself up within five minutes. There’s no dramatic tension building up. No real suspense. No thrilling climax. No Scooby Doo-esque ‘figure out the killer’ gimmick.
The set piece, which sounded a lot better on paper and looked a lot more exciting in the trailer, drags itself out for far too long. Director Gauthie goes overkill on the slow motion here, really drawing out the scene unnecessarily but then once it’s over, you realise that he’s only dragged it out because there’s nothing else left in the film, just a small five-minute wrap-up and that’s it – it’s all over. The initial slicing looks decent, with some good practical effects as the first trio of victims go crashing into the blades, but then the slow-motion follow-up reactions of those waiting down below go on for way too long without any real purpose. And, prologue kills aside, considering it’s the only set piece, then the necessity for as many characters as possible to go down the same slide in order to ramp up the body count becomes far too silly – character after character ends up down the same death chute, only to meet the same fate. Not that you’d care about any of them anyway.
Aquaslash features one of the worst ensemble groups of characters I can recall: a thoroughly unlikeable bunch of passive aggressive, backstabbing, two-timing morons whom I find impossible to accept that they were allowed to finish school. And that’s just the ‘teenage’ characters, a term I use loosely given a lot of them look to be in their thirties. The ‘adults’ don’t fare any better, with the way they interact with the teenagers in the film so horrendously insulting, that it’s hard to believe were ever allowed to operate a public business. The sometimes-incomprehensible script serves up plenty of awkward, stilted exchanges of dialogue with characters replying to each other with responses that go off in different directions to what was being spoken about. Delivery is atrocious and the entire cast mumble, shout, scream, or just monotone line readings when they have no clue as to how to present their characters, which shows just how poorly managed they’ve been by the director.
I had literally no clue what the relationships between all of the characters were – people having sex with people who aren’t their partners, employees and employers seemingly starting and ending work whenever they want, I could go on. Not one character has a defining ‘character’ as they morph and change personalities whenever the situations arise, breaking any sort of stereotyping as they’re literally a combination of everything. It’s utterly confusing to identify just which character we’re supposed to be rooting for.
I’ll cut straight to the point here - Aquaslash is the horror equivalent of The Room, a truly horrific piece of genre filmmaking by Renaud Gauthie (the Tommy Wiseau of horror?). It really is that bad on all levels.
Director(s): Renaud Gauthier
Writer(s): Renaud Gauthier
Actor(s): Nicolas Fontaine, Brittany Drisdelle, Nick Walker, Madelline Harvey, Paul Zinno
Duration: 71 mins