Having recently experienced one of Jared Cohen’s other titles ‘Devil’s Domain’ I must admit I willingly watched Death Pool with some excitement. Although Death Pool immediately begins by laying the ground work for a psychological thriller with some meaning it quickly falls short of the mark.
The plot follows Johnny Taylor whom as a child was subject to some fairly horrific abuse from his babysitter, she clearly gets off on trying to drown Johnny who survives, however it becomes clear that psychological damage has been done.
Tormented by his past and living a squalid life Johnny, struggling to pay rent soon gets a ‘last resort’ job from his best friend Brandon, cleaning pools. Working in an environment which serves as a stark reminder of his past Johnny soon drowns his first victim.
From here on Johnny goes absolutely ballistic, hell bent on getting his kill tally up and desperate to gain notoriety. The bodies pile up, water being his weapon of choice and that is for me, where Death Pool starts to lose momentum. As contradictory as that sounds, the pace increases but not in the right way, death sequences rather than being shocking or macabre become blasé, our killer is simply remorseless and without showing an ounce of emotion ends up losing some identity.
Even when his best friend Brandon finds out instead of being horrified he is impressed and simply goads Johnny on to kill more, it’s a silly addition to the plot and quite frankly impedes on its credibility…..even in this fucked up world you can’t see the feasibility!
Most characters come and go focusing primarily on the killer now aptly named by the press as “The Valley Drowner”. Walker Mintz as Johnny does well to portray the killer, you can see the cold calculated character watching the victims slowly lose their life. Stemming from his childhood abuse all of his targets are female which annoyingly don’t put much of a fight, fundamentally they become easy picking, giving the kills an underwhelming feeling.
A handful of different scenes occur to try and mix things up, a bit of nudity and a ‘pornset’ scene which try their best in bringing some humor to the quite serious plot but nothing really gels.
Without knowing where Death Pool fits in Jared Cohen’s directorial timeline its quite difficult to be too critical, personal I can assume that this was shot much earlier than Devil’s Domain and is being released at a later date – it certainly lacks the same polish.
Overall Death Pool does come across as quite bland, a high death toll could be a highlight for watchers keen on seeing multiple deaths – also I can guarantee no dodgy practically effects not much is needed other than some H2O! Cohen has a much stronger portfolio to showcase and I would recommend choosing an alternative title.