Who among us would have said no to celebrating our high school graduation with an overnight stay at a wet and wild theme park that comes complete with motel rooms, lax drinking rules, and a history involving past murders? No one, that’s who, but that’s about the only story aspect that makes a lick of sense in the new Canadian slasher, Aquaslash.
The graduating class of Valley Hill High is stoked for a weekend of drinking, debauchery, and water slides, and Wet Valley Water Park is happy to have them. Well Paul the owner is thrilled for their cash, but Tommy the manager is no fan of teenage shenanigans. Both men have sleazier fish to fry, though, as Paul is cheating on his wife Priscilla, and Tommy suspects his girlfriend Kimberly is bumping uglies with high-schooler Josh who heads up the class’ 80s tribute band The Blades and is preparing to rock the park with their rendition of Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night.” Drama! Toss in a greedy real-estate developer who happens to be Josh’s dad, topless hijinks involving neon paint and a swimming pool, magically appearing bangs, broken glass, bad math, teenage cocaine addicts, a pair of very clear homages to Friday the 13th (1980), and a severe lack of adult supervision, and you have a recipe for disaster. Oh, and did I mention the mysterious killer who murders a fornicating couple before the weekend even begins and then inserts giant blades into one of the water slides destined to slice people into sloppy quarters?
Writer/director Renaud Gauthier‘s latest continues his flair with punny titles — he previously gifted the world with Discopathe (2013) and is in production on Lude Behavior — but Aquaslash can’t quite live up to its name. A traditional slasher opening gives way to a lot of down time focusing on characters and story, neither of which are interesting or engaging, and both of which are continually absurd. The slasher element returns in the final twenty minutes in a fairly unique form, though, and the gory results might just be enough for some viewers.
That opening scene teases some of the bloodletting to come as a woman is hacked to pieces, but it’s a long haul to the bloody set-piece on the slides that wraps up the movie. The film’s focus centers instead on its ensemble and their various story lines, relationships, and troubles, but while character depth is usually a positive thing here it’s a confusing mash of unlikable people and nonsensical narratives. Paul’s cheating with a redheaded teen who looks like his wife, Priscilla is nicknamed “the end” for being the goal of every boy attending the park, Josh used to date Kimberly before she quit school and started dating an older guy, the other band members are horn dogs constantly picked on by the jocks — absolutely none of it works to endear viewers to these characters, and instead it becomes a long wait for something, anything to happen.
I hesitate to call what we get a story, but either way the details are every bit as empty as those characters. Secret plans are made to sell the park, the truth about the past murders changes on the fly before being revealed as something wholly unfitting of the label “murders,” other characters simply disappear from the film, an entire graduating class consists of roughly twenty people, and I’m not kidding about the completely different hairstyle that appears on one character between scenes set barely minutes apart. It’s crazy town.
One character unknowingly refers to this graduation celebration as “a weekend to die for,” and that’s about as witty as the script gets, and yet, Aquaslash remains a barely watchable misfire. It’s not trying to be a funny riff on 80s slashers along the lines of the hilarious Dude Bro Party Massacre III (2015), but it still finds some unintentional laughs in its serious nonsense. A running time of barely more than an hour certainly helps, and if you make it to the end you’ll be rewarded with several minutes of gory carnage — people keep going down the same deadly slide! — a ridiculous reveal, and one hell of a ludicrous mid-credits scene. You already know if it’s for you, and if it is, you won’t regret it. Probably. Maybe?