01st Sep2020

Frightfest 2020: ‘Aquaslash’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Nicolas Fontaine, Brittany Drisdelle, Lanisa Dawn, Nick Walker, Madelline Harvey, Paul Zinno, Chip Chuipka, Howard Rosenstein, Ryan Ali, Cameron Geller, Ivan Ossa, Samantha Hodhod, Jeremy Lavigne Suzanna Lenir, Owen Bruemmer | Written and Directed by Renaud Gauthier

The Wet Valley Water Park welcomes high school students celebrating their graduation in all their unleashed libido glory. However, in the midst of the ribald romping revels, a black-gloved murderer is tinkering with the water slides and sabotaging the swimming pools.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ve no doubt I’ll say it many times again, but Canadians know how to make damn good horror flicks and guess what? Aquaslash is another product of the Canadian genre scene, another fantastic genre flick from the land that brought us the likes of He Knows You’re Alone, My Bloody Valentine, Antisocial and this years Fantasia Festival highlight The Oak Room.

Aquaslash sees director Renaud Gauthier return to the genre after a six year hiatus (this film was made last year before the pandemic hit) and much like his 2013 film Discopath, which homaged 80s slasher movies, 70s Euro horror and disco films, Aquaslash pastiches slasher movies and the teen comedies of the 80s – complete with a romantic love triangle and good-looking leading man. Gauthier also uses his experience as a music video director to bring some VERY 80s-esque music-video montages to the film too!

Even before the terror of Aquaslash begins Gauthier manages to make the Wet Valley Water Park a menacing and terrifying place to be – be it through the cast of characters that are there, with their taunting, bullying behaviour; or the simple use of an ominous droning sound as the camera pans over the park and kids pour down the water slides. The a real sense of dread built from the get-go, an real anticipation for what is to come…

And when it does come? Well its certainly a grisly gore-fest, with body parts and bucket of blood galore! Though you’ll have to sit through some 50-odd minutes of teen movie melodrama and a cast of characters that, despite having just graduated, look like their about 10 years post school! But then wasn’t that the case with the slasher movies of old? At least Gautier manages to make that aspect of Aquaslash‘s pastiche spot-on. He also captures the sleazier nature of the early slasher films too – throwing in just the right amount of T&A and an old-school killers POV, to make this feel like it could have stepped right out of the 80s!

And the 80s slasher homages don’t end there, as Aquaslash has a stinger up its sleeve that echoes the original Friday the 13th movie, with a flashback to lifeguards ignoring their duty and the reveal of the films dastardly decapitator but given a more feminist twist. And that final coda? It left me wondering if Gauthier could take this slasher from the water park to the shopping mall? It’s certainly something I’d like to see!

**** 4/5

Aquaslash screened as part of this years Frightfest Digital Edition on Sunday August 30th. The film is also availabe now on iTunes.

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