The Pond (2021) Isn’t as Deep as It Claims to Be
Title: The Pond
First Non-Festival Release: February 23, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Petar Pasic
Writer: Stefan Andrejic, Dusan Bulic
Runtime: 96 Minutes
Starring: Marco Canadea, Paul Leonard Murray, Aleksandar Papajic
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Suspended from his university and forced into a sabbatical, a professor (Marco Canadea) spends his days working in a rundown neighborhood across the pond from his newly acquired home. When he isn’t tinkering in the mobile home that he rents, he plays chess with one of the residents, lets his daughter play with the two odd local girls, and winces from afar watching one of the local builders curse at not finding his tools. All is well until he believes he is on the verge of discovering something both terrible and great. He attempts to share with his faculty back home but is met with skepticism and distrust. Worried that he might be lacking in credibility due to his wife’s recent passing and his inability to get it together, he must work to convince those around him that hell is very much real.
A plodding and indulgent exercise in existential horror, The Pond is as apocalyptic as it is sleep inducing.
Easily the biggest issue with The Pond comes with its story. It starts off with a neat idea about this professor on the precipice of something great with his research related to this pond. Slowly, as he digs deeper, everything around him reveals itself as this thinly constructed veil preventing him from noticing his true state of being. Once the film reaches its conclusion, it becomes more of a bizarre metaphor for the afterlife, demons, God, the Devil, everything essentially.
This is where it stumbles greatly. In the past, films have used a big reveal to show something worthy about its characters or connect the subject material to something present. Here, in The Pond, neither really happens. The commentary is non-existent, and instead, The Pond opts for creating this “clever” wraparound to explain its events. Once you start thinking too hard about what is going on after watching, it starts to crumble.
This speaks nothing of the continued technical issues The Pond faces throughout its runtime. It takes quite the time to build up and it doesn’t do much with that slow burn. From a story perspective, it’s bad enough but from a visceral perspective it feels like one giant edging session. The Pond has plenty of sound issues that reach out and attack the viewer more often than any of the intentional scares can hope to do. It feels like the film is trying to make up for its lack of tension by ratcheting up the sound in hopes it will jolt the viewer. A jarring choice that overall alienates more than it frightens. Beyond all this, the acting is just rough.
While it is a disappointing film, it is not all bad. A few cool shots are thrown in here and there and some of the imagery is unnerving. It ultimately loses out compared to the dull and listless environment the film takes place in and the more static shots, but it breaks up the monotony all the same. It’s a very nihilistic and depressing watch without easy answers or much of any sense. It reads like a visual nightmare but offers little of the psychological fury one would hope to see.
The Pond is stuck in a conundrum, where it wants to tell a story that has been done to death but believes that it is creating something revolutionary. Aside from missing the landing, the storytelling abilities are severely lacking. Its characters are poorly developed, the sequence of events doesn’t quite make sense in the end, and the twist leaves much to be desired. The apocalypse feels personal here, which is a little triumph for the indie film, but its inclusion in the narrative makes the tiny victories pale in comparison to the large swaths of unanswered questions the film raises. There are better places to visit than The Pond and I highly suggest you seek them out instead.
Overall Score? 3.5/10