The Pond (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Pond (2021) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on March 06th, 2021 | Movie Review | Psychological, Madness, Folk Horror, Dangerous Exploration

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It’s about a professor who may not be playing chess with the grim reaper and whose daughter may or may not be being pursued by a monster who may or may not be her father.

The Pond is a Serbian folk horror film directed and co-written by Petar Pasic, in his full-length feature directorial debut. It stars Marco Canadea (as an unnamed protagonist) and Leslie Kunz as his lover.

Can a grieving professor puzzle out the nature of reality between his unpredictable naps?

The Pond Review

The Pond’s marketing materials posit an anthropologist on the verge of an apocalyptic discovery. But the film neither identifies the main character as an anthropologist nor suggests – at least initially – that his research is apocalyptic. And if it is apocalyptic, it’s not apocalyptic in the way you probably think.

Rather, the professor obsesses about a metaphysical inquiry involving circles from a dismal camper, alone with his laptop. His camper unit is parked in a low-rent Balkan island campground surrounded by a gloomy pond. Each day, the man returns to his home by dropping coins into the hand of a mute ferryman.

The film has the feel of one extended scene until the last ten minutes or so. It’s a reality-puzzler in the same way that films like Jacob’s Ladder, The Sixth Sense and The Matrix are puzzlers – but don’t hold your breath for a resolution in which all the pieces lock into place. Expect something more in the nature of the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Pond is a slow burn – perhaps too slow – with so many clues piling up that you begin to wonder how the film is possibly going to tie everything together. The questions mount: How did the man’s wife die? Why would someone be offended by being labeled a carpenter? What’s in the bathroom? It’s all held together with unsettling dialogue, washed-out landscapes, a dreadful mood, an eerie soundtrack, and a fish story or two.

Listen for all the existential questions peppering the script – all the ‘why’ questions. The theme is outlined in the first few minutes by a web page displayed on the professor’s laptop: “What Our Eyes Don’t Show Us.” Human sense organs can perceive a narrow bandwidth – x-rays and ultraviolet light are invisible to us. What if life’s meaning lies beyond our powers of perception?

It’s a meta question. After all, film is a visual medium and the question is raised visually. This is a horror film, so the film questions its own capacity to address its monstrous subject. The medium suggests its own unreliability.

A similar (but campier) film is They Live. There, special sunglasses unlock transcendent vision. With the right sunglasses, the hideous aliens hiding among us can be spotted by the characters and, by extension, by the audience, too. Something even more hideous may be hiding in plain sight in The Pond. But sunglasses won’t open the portal.

Worth Watching?

Only by serious surrealism fans. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of flick.

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