Director Bryce McGuire’s spooky-ish ghost story is a feature-long remake of his (and co-writer Rod Blackhurst’s) 2014 short film of the same name, with chummy help from co-producer James Wan, who’s known for harsher horrors like the Saw and Conjuring films.
However, with its M Rating (or PG-13 in the US), this cautiously lacks the terror of Wan’s blockbusters, and it’s hard not to wish that a proper supernatural fiend will pop up and get some real blood gushing. It’s also somewhat difficult to be especially scared of a haunted pool: like an evil jacuzzi, a possessed sofa, a poisonous recliner, or even a Death Bed (yes, a real movie from 1977!), you rather need to get into the damn thing for it to have any serious effect.
The Waller family are looking to buy a new house in a nice LA community, as Dad Ray (Wyatt Russell, Kurt’s son), a former star baseballer, continues his treatment for MS. He’s ably supported by his missus Eve (Irish actress Kerry Condon, recently in The Banshees Of Inisherin), and their two worried kids, big sister Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle) and anxious son Elliot (Gavin Warren), and the apparently perfect place is quickly found, complete with a huge backyard pool which seems to have been there for a century or so. And yes, no one has ever made a connection between it and the apparently dozens of former owners who have gone missing over the years.
After extensive fixing-up, the family and their friends are eventually swimming, and somehow not too alarmed, at first, by the eerie voices they hear, or strange figures observed while underwater. Ray also starts to feel surprisingly better, and while he’s happy and optimistic at first, you just know that’s soon to change, and that he’ll begin to get obsessed. And ho-hum.
All of this is hardly hardcore horror, and yet there’s still enough standard generic fun here to enjoy, with a creepy game of ‘Marco Polo’, a ghost girl seemingly trapped in the filter, and an FX phantom that looks a touch like cult star Tor Johnson from Plan 9 From Outer Space.
The performances are also good for such familiar material, with Russell and Condon ensuring that this one has just enough, ahem, depth.