I’ve been reading a large number of instructional blog posts lately on the subject of narrative, and What Makes A Good Story. As a fiction writer myself (when I’m not penning movie reviews!), it’s vitally important that, when I tell a story, I make it a good one worth reading. It’s equally important to be able to recognise a good story written by someone else when I see one. THE POOL is more than just a good story; it’s a sensational one.

One of the blog posts I read (I forget who wrote this) outlined a simple but effective metaphor that you can use to tell/write a good story. You, as the writer, should do three things. 1. Stick your lead character up a tree. 2. Throw rocks at him/her for a bit. 3. Let him/her down from the tree again, but not too quickly, and certainly not unscathed. I love this metaphor. I’m going to adopt it for every single piece of fiction I write from now on.

As a superb piece of narrative storytelling, THE POOL already knows all these things. The premise is simple but shocking. An attractive young Thai man called Day is trapped in a drained, outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool with a man-eating crocodile. There’s your ‘tree,’ and the hero is most definitely stuck up in its lofty branches. Now to chuck rocks at him, lol, and boy, does this director chuck rocks at him…!

Various things are added into the mix to ramp up the tension, which never lets up for a minute. These include Day’s beloved doggie, Lucky, a dead ringer for the shaggy mutt in the Dulux paint ads; Day’s pregnant and possibly brain-damaged girlfriend Koy (he doesn’t want the baby, because he’s not in the right set of circumstances or headspace to be a dad, he reckons, but she vehemently disagrees); a rope of barbed wire; a ladder that’s there one minute and gone the next; and a tunnel beneath the pool ‘plug-hole’ that comes out God knows where.

You can add in hunger, thirst/dehydration and the lashing rain, and the fact that the pool is no longer in use and the protagonists won’t be missed for at least another three months; oh, and the crocodile is pregnant, too, by the way, and, as a nesting mother, she’s a hundred times more dangerous.

Also, her precious baby eggs are the only source of food available to the ravenous Day and his woman. Oh, oh, oh, and Day is diabetic, and his insulin (like his phone) is tantalisingly out of reach. How’s that for an obstacle course, then…?

Day, an ordinary, everyday bloke who’s probably never encountered a set of exceptional circumstances in his life before now, has to battle everything the director fires at him if he wants to survive this horrible and highly unusual ordeal.

His little victories and crushing disappointments are shared by the appalled viewer, who can’t believe how tough the director is making life for this one unlucky character. The pace and tension are maintained throughout, and the action never flags. The shocks, thrills and spills come thick and fast.

The dog is a furry legend and the crocodile, supposedly computerised, looks as real as everything else in this animal attack film. I nearly died when I found out it was animated.

I didn’t see the crocodile as the villain of the piece either. She didn’t ask to be put in this lousy situation any more than Day did, and, at the end of the day, all she’s really interested in is keeping her eggs (and babies) safe. (Just like Day and Preggers, lol.)

Then suddenly, she’s thrust into a scenario where man is her enemy and she is his. A crocodile can only do what she’s been programmed by Mother Nature for millions of years to do. I’m not taking the croc’s side over Day’s, but I can see the situation from both sides.

Day is extremely good-looking and the shots of his muscular arms and chest are very much appreciated. A sex scene between man and woman to affirm their humanity whilst in the jaws of certain death would have gone down nicely, as would a few shots of the lead actor’s no-doubt delicious naked butt have done, but sadly it wasn’t to be.

Ah well. You can’t have everything, and THE POOL pretty much delivers everything as it is, including pizza…! As we said earlier, as an examply of How to Tell A Good Story, it’s top-notch stuff, and required viewing for any would-be storyteller, regardless of their chosen medium. Do not miss out on watching this creature feature/battle for survival movie. It’s got teeth and claws, and it’s, quite simply, unmissable.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

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