Aquarium – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Frédéric Grousset

Cast

Sophie Talon………Elise
Michel Robin………Georges
Karen Bruere………Alice
Capucine Mandeau………Marie
Abel Divol………Alex
Julien Masdoua………Vincent
Pierrre-Luc Scotto………Voice

DVD Release Date: January 29, 2008
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 70 Minutes

The Movie

If you were to wake up in a solid white room with five strangers and no exit in sight, what would you do? Would you keep to yourself and get depressed? Perhaps you stay focused on finding an exit of some sort or answers as to why you are there. Maybe you’d align yourself with the strangers and try to come up with a plan by putting your heads together. Or would you listen to the voice that is commanding you and do everything it says in hopes of being the last one left standing and earn your release?

Vincent awoke and found himself in a small room with five strangers unconscious on the floor. In the corner sat a small round tray with six dishes and cups on it. A locked door stands before him with a speaker and video camera above it. Confusion is the first emotion followed by anger and then frustration. Acceptance comes soon and Vincent simply sits as he waits for the others to wake up. When they finally do, they begin to experience all the emotions he has already gone through.

The six people are being watched and given strict instructions to follow. Any noncompliance of the rules will result in death. Failure to complete any of the tasks will result in death. Any attempt to cheat or alter the game in any way will result in death. The last one left alive when all the activities have been completed will be granted their release from this small community. Now the question remains as to whether the strangers will take this seriously or just do whatever they can to escape. Soon they realize that listening to the voice and following all the rules is not only the best way to survive, but the only way.

On the DVD cover, Aquarium is categorized as “Big Brother meets Saw, only nastier.” My problem with this quote is that there isn’t a credit for it, so I’m not exactly sure who said it. It could have been the director for all I know, but it doesn’t matter because it is pretty accurate. The comparison to Saw is evident from moment one all the way up until the end. People are trapped in a room and being watched, they must play along to survive, and it is all one big game. To make a better description here, this is Saw II meets George Orwell’s 1984. Perhaps it would be better if people were a bit better read then simply watching television all the time.

The film isn’t necessarily bad because it takes some of the characteristics that made the Saw franchise such a success and uses them in good ways. It is like the second Saw film in that it is a group of people; only now they are trapped in a single room instead of an entire house. But the silliness quotient is just over the top here. The games they are required to play consists of some actual games. For instance, the first contest is a rousing rendition of “Simon Says.” Yes, I’m serious. The loser of the game is executed, gas fills the room knocking everyone else out, the body is removed, and everything starts over again. Interesting idea even though it has been done before, but the amount of dead time in the middle just totally kills this film before it really gets momentum.

Never do you find out anything about these people except for their names and occupations. The ending is what brings about the whole idea of Big Brother, but still no real reasoning as to why these particular people were brought together for this experiment. The other annoying this is how there are actually only two games in the entire film and they are “Simon Says” and then “Russian Roulette.” Everyone else manages to get themselves killed by acting stupid or killing someone else. Then all of a sudden the ending comes out of nowhere and while it is a bit of a heart-wrenching ending; all care for this film was already gone by the time the twenty minute mark was reached.

The Video

The film is shown in Anamorphic Widescreen format and looks somewhat decent when the regular camera shots are being shown, but not so much in the killer’s camera view. I know it is supposed to be a surveillance cam and all that, but it was annoying.

The Audio

The film is heard in Surround Sound with English subtitles and just is totally bothersome from one end to the other. When the surveillance camera view is shown, there is annoying static and weird pitch. The subtitles are very hard to read considering they are white and the entire room is mostly white making them invisible at times.

Special Features

Film Stills Gallery – Self explanatory.

Behind The Scenes Stills Gallery – Ditto.

Original Aquarium Trailer

Making Of Aquarium Documentary – This is nothing much. It lasts four minutes and shows them building the set from scratch, walking around, doing some acting, and that’s about it while some music plays in the background.

Short Film: Emergency Stop – Directed by Frédéric Grousset. This is a short seven and a half minute film that shows a young girl stopping at a rest area to use the bathroom. Suddenly a man comes in and starts washing off his blood-stained hands and drops his knife. Needless to say she freaks out and fights him off, but she gets a big surprise when she heads outside. You want to known how much this interested me? The things I remember from it most are that the girl didn’t put down a toilet seat cover and didn’t wipe.

Short Film: Shit – Also directed by Grousset. Wow, a six minute short film all about a guy taking a dump and not having any toilet paper to wipe with. I kid you not.

Satanic Slut Book Teaser: “Blood & Dishonour” – A book of satanic looking women in slutty clothes.

TrailersThe Witching Hour, Black Mass, and Hurt

The Inside Pulse

If you are into horror flicks that are somewhat disturbing and make you kind of think, then Aquarium isn’t bad for a rental some night if you can find it on the cheap special or something. It doesn’t even hit the seventy minute mark in length so it won’t take a lot of your time. The promise is there, it truly is. Only they don’t deliver for more then a third of the film maybe and even that is hard to really call, good. The special features are absolutely worthless, especially the two short films that are just downright awful. What is with this guy and bathrooms? Take this DVD into consideration if you can rent it some night for a dollar or two, but spend no more then that.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Aquarium
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

4.5
THE VIDEO

7
THE AUDIO

4
THE EXTRAS

2
REPLAY VALUE

2
OVERALL
3
(NOT AN AVERAGE)