Sunday, October 3, 2021

THE POND (2021) Movie Review

Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 3
Total First Time Views: 3
Amount raised for ALBANY PARK THEATER PROJECT: $97.65

The Pond (2021) d. Petar Pasic (Serbia) (96 min) (1st viewing)

Oddly enough, this is the second recent Serbian genre film I’ve seen in as many months, which is good because the only one with which I had firsthand experience was Srdjan Spasojevic’s notorious 2010 feature. (I’ll not spoil it for those still unaware of its shocking finale, but suffice to say… ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.) Unfortunately, this one from director Pasic and his three, count ’em, three screenwriting collaborators is a nine-pound hodgepodge of half-baked ideas shoved into a two-pound bag and the results aren’t pretty even if the cinematography is.

It’s too bad, because there are some striking images and intriguing ideas at play. We’ve got a grieving widower in the professor (Marco Canadea) who has buried himself in research, the result being a poorly articulated “apocalyptic discovery” involving circles within and surrounding the titular body of water. He’s apparently shacked up with one of his students, but lacks the energy to actually do anything with her. He’s also an emotionally absent father to his daughter, his only real companion being a nonstop cookie-crunching chess player who spouts high-falutin’ nonsense through the sugary spray of crumbs.

The rest of the small community includes two bratty young sisters incessantly fighting, a local handyman given to fits of rages when his various tools go missing, a mute boatman with a pillow sewn onto his head, and a silent, bare-chested specter haunting the proceedings, the face obscured by a large mask of bundled twigs.

The problem is that none of it feels cohesive, almost as if the four scribes were all working on separate projects and decided to throw them all into the mix. (Not entirely beyond the realm of possibility, by the way.) The professor’s “findings” are completely banal (“We are in Hell already!”) and there is no connective tissue shown onscreen to support the wild theory, only borrowed passages from Yeats and others, presumably intended to lend some literary weight. Set-pieces, such as a locked water closet, are made much of without any real payoff, and while there are some striking overhead drone shots and moody, muted color palettes at play (courtesy of Vladan G. Jankovic), they are in service of a story that carries little dramatic impact or internal logic.

I can’t say I was terribly surprised upon seeing the Shout! Studios (an off-shoot of Shout! Factory) logo appear at the opening titles. Even as they rule the roost as a physical media revival house, S!S does not have the greatest track record as a creator/distributor of recent original content. Word to the wise: Keep those special edition Blu-ray releases coming and leave the film festival cherry-picking to someone else.

No comments:

Post a Comment