Death Pool: A Review
by Luce Allan
Johnny Taylor has wandered aimlessly throughout his adult life as a result of a traumatic childhood incident, in which his young female babysitter attempted to drown him. When his close friend, Brandon, suggests that they work for his uncle's successful Los Angeles pool-cleaning business, Johnny finds brutal reprieve from his fear of water through drowning his beautiful female clients. In Death Pool (2016), a killer's deepening insanity plunges him into a notoriety so thrilling that only increasingly darker actions can satisfy his need.
Death Pool takes a relatively straightforward concept and transforms it into an electrifying concoction of depth and creativity. While the kills revolve almost strictly around drowning, the approaches are varied and interesting, without relying on a one-note formula, and certain kills are gut-wrenching. In terms of horror, a factor in this film that is equally as compelling as Johnny's mounting number of kills is his genuine struggle against his psychopathic urges-a struggle that undulates in intensity throughout the film and grows more terrifying as it diminishes. Randy Wayne infuses Johnny's character with a blend of poignant remorse and ruthless pleasure, which allows the audience to feel both sympathy and revulsion in equal measures. Demetrius Stear also impresses as Brandon, whose surprising (and often chilling) reactions to his best friend's violent desires add dimension to the storyline.
The inclusion of Johnny's rapid rise to infamy allows for an astute commentary on the darker side of fame, particularly when it is paired with an overwhelming thirst for attention. When an impressionable local fanbase regards Johnny's horrific actions as thrilling and sensual exploits, Johnny further dissociates from his own humanity as his ego is fed. The contrast between the warped pageantry created by Johnny's fans and the raw cruelty of his true nature is both profound and frightening, and allows the film to stretch beyond the limits of a typical slasher film.
While the film's plot is generally well-structured, the beginning flashback scene of the film and the ending could have been executed with more impact. The beginning felt a bit rushed, particularly because its content revealed a critical moment in the movie's plot, and the ending could have been more climactic, as it followed an extremely emotional climax.
Overall, Death Pool triumphs in its clever and engrossing take on a man's monstrous transformation into a serial killer.