Black Waters of Echo's Pond
As we steadily approach the autumnal month of October it can mean one thing for film buffs include those of us that have the inclination to commit our opinions to the public, this is the time when horror film begin to dominant the theaters and home entertainment markets. One that recently crossed desk was ‘Black Waters of Echo's Pond’. As is the case with the majority of this genre, at least how it relates to modern fans, this one is primarily targeted to the hard core horror movie enthusiast. That is to say it was made for a miniscule budget, $5 million with and obviously quick principle shoot schedule of less than a month. Although it failed to recoup the investment at the box office the modern fiscal paradigm encompasses DVD, international marketing and cable/streaming licensing fees all of which look to movies like this to fill their lineup. This movie is one on many that fall short of demonstrating a realistic degree of technical proficiency it does possess the necessary elements that fans consider necessary to provide an entertaining time watching.
The film begins with a scene of an archeological dig somewhere in Turkey. There is the usual looming danger that surrounds such expedition as the about to uncover some form of ancient evil, the Pagan god Pan, a practice among this profession within the context of horror movies. This unwise practice is always a terrible idea and universally performed. After establishing a modicum of groundwork as to the source of the terror about to be unleashed the movie speeds ahead to the current day where a youthful group is planning a party in a remote location. The membership of this group is derived directly from central casting using archetypes that are commonplace in this form of movie. There is the alpha male life of the party, Rick (James Duval); the nearly uncontrollable Veronique (Mircea Monroe) who’s over the top attitude is juxtaposed to the reserved nature of Robert (M.D. Walton). Along with several other friends they travel to a remote island for a night of drug and alcohol fueled fun. There are the usual entwined relationships that emotional tie the group together. Among them is a set of twins, Renee and Erica, played respectfully by real twins, Electra and Elise Avellan. With one married having hooked up with her sister’s current boyfriend the potential for jealousy or even cooperative variations in made possible. Rounding things off as expected is the introduction of a well-established scream queen. Here that requisite role is assumed by Danielle Harris of the Halloween reboot franchise. Here she portrays Kathy, a young woman with an iota more common sense that her friends. The house and island are owned by the resident curmudgeon, Pete, played by former Terminator and busy character actor, Robert Patrick. His function is to warn the kids about potential dangers and constantly complain about their rowdy antics.
The group finds an old board game and since they obviously never watched Jumanji, blithely unpack it and begin to play it. They seem all too willing to overlook the ancient look of the board game including the creepy cards mandating actions the players must perform and an odd venter section representing a pool of black water. As the game progresses and cards are drawn it becomes clear that the object of the game is to force the players to face some of their darkest desires and fantasies. First the sisters are forced into a four way sexual encounter with their guys. The go off to a room hoping to pretend to go along but as the demonic influence of Pan Increases they are soon skinny dipping. The two friends soon follow into a murderous rage and the surgically enhanced bust line of Veronique (Mircea Monroe) gets a lesbian workout when the game contrives to pair her with Kathy. As the evening wears on eyes predictably turn black as coal signally the main act of shooting, hacking, stabbing and the unleashing of the ever popular chainsaw; this act provides the required blood, entrails and body parts to keep the dedicated horror fan happy, the sick sense of humor is manifested with a double nucleation and radical double mastectomy. This is certain to induce those of more sensitive constitution to experience explosive reverse peristalsis.
Filmmaker Gabriel Bologna may be relatively new to his functions as director and screen writer but he does demonstrate more than a rudimentary understanding of the constituent elements of a modern slash and dash variety of horror flick. To his credit he does make a concerted effort to define the characters and their interrelationships better than is typically found in this type of movie. This can help make up for the predictability of the story’s progression with a means for the audience to forge a solid bond with the character. This led to caring about what happens to then setting the viewer up for the little twist used to conclude the flick. The pacing might appear slow and compare to the run of the mill bloody extravaganza. This difference in pacing opens the progression of the story making it possible to delay the majority of slaughter and mayhem to later in the film. When combined with the impetus of character development the demonic nature of the mysterious board game easier to take as a plot point. The insidious true nature and purpose of the demonic game; by the time the board moves rearranging itself the players are so high and horney that they seem to barely notice. The cards that are selected by the players follow a dark true or dare pattern. First a dark secret or fantasy is induced by staring into the center pond on the board. This induces a vision usually violent or sexual in nature. The next round inevitably forces the realization of that scenario.
Ms Harris has more experience than most as a certifiable scream queen and designated survivor girl; a pair of horror archetypes traditionally given to a reasonably level headed brunette. This is always contrasted with the loose blonde as represented by Veronica. Her character’s primary purpose is to jiggle in a low cut top, openly discuss the implants and lounge seductively on a couch smoking a joint. Once that is accomplished the character becomes fair game for the blood thirsty evil spirits that the game unlashed. Count this one in as a beer and pizza flick for when friends are over and there isn’t s game on.