And there we have it! After not being able to complete this marathon last year, here I am typing out the words that will commence the very last review of this year’s go at it. It was touch and go for a while there since I fell terribly behind for a few days, but here I am crossing the finish line! Picking the last movie was tough. I had started a different one and was about a half hour into it before discovering Monster Pool: Chapter Two (there is a chapter one and it looks like parts of it are available on YouTube). Monster Pool is a collection of short stories done by filmmakers in the Ottawa area. I’m from Ottawa and am always up for a good short story collection (it has been hit and miss this month with Holidays and Cat’s Eye), so it made sense to conclude this October with some hometown goodness.
Two jocks wind up in a pool with their two female neighbors who start the movie by telling them different accounts of the tragic events that occurred in the guys’ house before they moved in. From there, the four of them spend the night sharing a variety of stories, involving everything from serial killers to the zombie apocalypse. There are 10 stories in total, none of them running for more than 10 minutes or so.
I won’t lie, I was ready to fill this review with a whole lot of caveats since it’s all local filmmakers who almost certainly don’t have the budget and resources of many of the movies I’ve reviewed this month. After watching Monster Pool, that no longer seems necessary. This is a very well put together production and I actually feel bad for originally entering into it with the mindset that I would need to make excuses for it.
Typically for this kind of movie I would break the movie down story by story, but with 10 of them total that seems excessive. The amount of stories works to Monster Pool’s advantage because even if one of them isn’t doing it for you, another one will be along very shortly. I will say that I found the first half of the movie to contain my favourite stuff. There’s a running theme of characters being stalked in their homes for several of these stories, and while it runs the danger of becoming repetitive, each short is fresh enough that it feels like something different. A couple of them are genuinely suspenseful, generating some effective jump scares. The gore/violence is light for the most part, with one story involving a kidnapping being the primary exception. There is one bit of business in that one that happens to the kidnapping victim that had me wincing for a long while afterwards so kudos to them on that one.
I would rank the below stories as the highlights for me:
Red Man – Patient in a psychiatrist’s office recounts some terrifying recent events.
Time’s Up – Woman going through a divorce is seeing something strange around her apartment. The ending absolutely makes this one.
Time of Need – Child makes a wish for protection against his abusive father. The wish is granted in a pretty glorious way.
I Make Corpses – Depicts how a serial killer manages in the zombie apocalypse.
Those are my choices but there’s no story I would point to as being a particularly weak link. There was clearly a lot of passion put into the presentation of these stories, each one offering their own unique style and aesthetic. I would absolutely listen to a commentary track for this movie as it would be very interesting to hear each filmmaker delve into the details for each of their stories. There are also a number of great performances here, with the lead from The Prisoner and the killer from One More Drink being two stand-outs.
More than once I’ve gone deep down the rabbit role of YouTube horror shorts and watching Monster Pool felt like a particularly good one of those sessions. It moves at a fast clip and it’s consistently fascinating to see what filmmakers from my city are coming up with. It turns out, a lot of high quality stuff! I rented this one digitally (which you can do from monsterpool.ca) but I see a blu-ray purchase occurring in the future. A good way to close out this year’s October marathon. Happy Halloween everyone and thanks for sticking with me on this!