**Contains some spoilers**
There is something oddly endearing about Lifetime thrillers. They are the ultimate comfort genre movie, heavily cliched with nonsensical character motivations that will leave you yelling at the screen! But at the same time, they are hugely enjoyable, easy to watch, and guaranteed to leave a smile on your face once the credits roll.
Rolfe Kanefsky’s 2020 offering, The Poolboy Nightmare is no exception, which sees a newly divorced single mother, Gale (Jessica Morris) embark on a steamy one-night stand with the eager local pool boy, Adam (Tanner Zagarino). She makes it clear that their liaison is a one-time thing before he’s even had the chance to zip up his pants! Adam doesn’t take the rejection too well, and, you guessed it begins stalking his crush, transforming her fresh start as a single woman into a living hell, especially once he sets his sights on her teenage daughter, Becca (Ellie Darcey-Alden), who of course has no intention of listening to her mother’s pleas that Adam is not a good guy!
The Poolboy Nightmare opens on a vicious note as a murder takes place in the swimming pool of a quiet suburban area. Immediately, this establishes some backstory and the implication that Gale is not the first woman to feel the wrath of Adam’s misguided infatuation. Swiftly moving on, we meet Gale and Becca who move into said house. Career driven Gale is struggling with the split from her husband who has unsubtly ditched her for a “younger upgrade”, while Becca is more focused on hanging out with her over-enthusiastic best friend, Jackie (Cynthia Aileen Strahan), and having cringe-worthy conversations about, “boys”.
The plot feels rushed through, featuring unrealistic character depictions that feel like we’re watching caricatures rather than fully fleshed out real people. Events happen in quick succession in place of a gradual build-up, so that Adam can act out his version of Fatal Attraction and we can get to the meat of the film. The Poolboy Nightmare doesn’t shy away from showing off its actors “ripped bodies” in a Jacob from Twilight way! The whole film is extremely laughable while maintaining a charming essence about it.
The film features some amusing one-liners, especially in how the age gap between Gale and Adam is emphasized, he’s unaware of who Jack Torrance is or the Dustin Hoffman cinematic classic, The Graduate (1967), which suggests he has spent too much time stalking women to pay attention to popular culture or has been living under a rock! With various ludicrous scenarios that play out, The Poolboy Nightmare is the ultimate, “switch your brain off” movie and just go with it, it’s certainly more fun that way!
The element of suspense is lacking as the film gives a proverbial knowing glance of when something sinister is afoot. It is heightened by dramatic music, indicating that events are going to take a dark turn or Adam is conspiring against someone who ceases to believe his “good guy” act. Again, all this is utterly forgivable in favour of the entertainment factor the film brings.
The violence switches between tame and savage, the opening kill is particularly mean-spirited, as well as a later scene involving a hot tub, but there’s nothing too gratuitous on show to alienate non-horror audiences.
For a blatantly predictable film, the ending does come as a surprise, albeit incredibly abrupt. The film claims to be “Based on true events” at the beginning, therefore it suggests that the film wanted to be presumably as authentic as it could be to the real situation.
If you enjoy campy Lifetime thrillers that are unapologetically cheesy, then this is worth giving a go. It’s pure suspend your disbelief entertainment that doesn’t require the viewer to swim too deep in the thought-provoking pool! The Poolboy Nightmare ticks off all the conventional thriller tropes creating a splash while doing so!
Read The Poolboy Nightmare director Rolfe Kanefsky’s Horror Favourites HERE