REVIEW: Aquaslash (2019) – FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition

dir. Renaud Gauthier.

Aquaslash is a film built around a singular image: a water slide with blades built in that shred the riders like some fancy kitchen gadget dicing root vegetables. So focused is director Renaud Gauthier on this – admittedly – compelling concept that the rest of the film only functions as a prelude to the final bloodbath. And since it’s a full 54 minutes before said payoff (out of a 71 minute film) that’s a whole lot of aqua before the slash.

The plot, such as it is, is a hotch potch of slasher cliches. Thirty-five years ago there were deaths at Wet Valley Water Park: whether they were accidents or murders no one can quite say, but since then the park has developed a reputation for being the hang out of over-sexed teens celebrating their high school graduation.

Hang on to that thought at the moment: that these are high-schoolers. Because none of these “kids” look under the age of 25, and what’s more these tattooed, coke sniffing minors partake in wet T-shirt competitions whilst the properties of the park – that is to say, adults – happily sleep their way through a bunch of them. It’s not that slasher films have always been proprietors of moral piety, but in 2020 behaviour that could at best be described as predatory being played for sexy laughs is somewhat troubling.

But the real problem here is that it’s so interminable. Jocks, babes, a virgin, a girl next door: characters are one note crib sheets, again not unusual slashers where they are just there to make up murder meat. But when hardly any murders happen for the majority of the run-time the film somewhat fails in its raison d’etre.

The finale, when it comes, is fun, and there is a nice little coda that ties things up in a Keyser Söze bow (though if you can’t tell who the killer is before the climatic water slide you probably haven’t been paying attention). But all this is too little too late. Despite its slight run time Aquaslash feels overlong, a cool idea stretched into a water clogged feature that sinks below the surface without a trace.

Tim Coleman

AQUASLASH has its UK Premiere at FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition on 30th August 2020.

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