Poolboy – Drowning Out the Fury drowns out more than rage. It drowns out quality and attempts to waterboard its audiences with the “found footage” rendition of an old 1990s action flick. It is a riff on the genre it is part of, and most of those films fall folly to the unavoidable premise that their action is worse than the films they mock. A film that St. James St. James (Ross Paterson) says is “too racially insensitive” to show is released on the audience. With its flimsy premise and prejudices, the mockery of Vietnam-era action flicks and synth note mayhem is something that has shied away from pop culture in recent days. Rightly so.
“I will slap the shit out of you” Poolboy (Kevin Sorbo) screams, holding the dismembered arm of his war buddy, threatening his wife and her lover. Strange dubbings that are either a nod to the spaghetti western or an infrequently shoddy joke are present. Stock footage and pathetic moments of weak racism are the bread and butter of Poolboy – Drowning Out the Fury, and its effect is weak at the best of times. Sorbo rants and raves with casual racism at his core. It is meant to be funny, but it is strangely disjointed, especially when Paterson interjects with mockumentary moments and narration explaining why he has left this scene or that within his movie.
Shockingly enough, the film would work slightly better if it weren’t trying to break the fourth wall all the time. Director Garrett Brawith has no creative bone in his body. His shot composition is either toying with the ideas Spinal Tap fooled around with, stock footage, or shot-reverse-shot nonsense that gets us from A to B. A running gag throughout Poolboy – Drowning Out the Fury is that the fictional film was directed by a ten-year-old St. James. Brawith either replicates this well or has the same structure and directing a ten-year-old would provide. There are special effects gags with a green screen, but the joke would work better if it is not explained to us immediately after. It ruins a lot of the other moments, as does the inclusion of Danny Trejo.
Donkey sex, jokes about black people and brainless parodies of the Vietnam War, Poolboy – Drowning Out the Fury was never going to set the world on fire, but it could at least double down on its horrible choices. Postal did it well, and for that, the manic tragedies of fascinating filmmaking are presented with a brutal and unflinching layer of post-parody irony. I am convinced Poolboy – Drowning Out the Fury set off with the same intentions, but its interjections from stagehands and need to break the fourth wall so incessantly do steal the spotlight from the poor-quality racism. Still, the point of these moments is to make fun of those films that used caricatures as one-note villains. You cannot have a holier-than-thou message when the film fumbles its point, though, and in turn, this effort from Brawith becomes worse than the films he looks to comment on.