Nine friends take a holiday at a Victorian home on a private island and uncover a game that when played brings out the worst in each of them. Jealously, greed, hatred, lust, all of the things they keep buried deep inside themselves rise to the surface and come to a boil.
Five kids are left home when their mother leaves town on a three-month vacation to Australia, only to have their geriatric babysitter die of a heart attack, leading to the eldest teen, Sue Ellen, to scam her way into taking a job at a hip Los Angeles fashion company to feed and support her needy siblings.
Nine friends take a holiday at a Victorian home on a private island and uncover a game that when played brings out the worst in each of them. Jealously, greed, hatred, lust, all of the things they keep buried deep inside themselves rise to the surface and come to a boil. The Black Waters of Echo's Pond shows those who look into it what they want to see... but what you want to see isn't always the truth. Written by
During the end credits, Richard Tyson is correctly listed as playing the character of Nicholas. However, on the very next screen he is listed again, but this time incorrectly as playing the character of Charles. See more »
I have been waiting an absurdly long time to see The Black Waters of Echo's Pond after missing my chance back when it had a limited theatrical release in April 2010. After that, the film vanished and wasn't released on DVD due to distribution conflicts until September 2013. I have been following its production, release, and lengthy stay in purgatory for sometime, as I did for other films such as The Poughkeepsie Tapes and The Worst Movie Ever!. I'm beginning to contemplate if I was put on this planet for reasons other than seeing film after film.
Unlike The Poughkeepsie Tapes, I didn't feel overwhelmed by greatness upon viewing The Black Waters of Echo's Pond. Horror films, as a whole, are a complete gamble, and more-so for low-budget ones, which can either be stunning works of independent craft or redundant tosh. Here is the case where a horror film becomes so wrapped up in delivering a story that affects characters that it forgets to include the jolts we expect until the end, as if it forgot its main job as a fantasy-horror film.
The film stars Danielle Harris, arguably the most famous actress here due to her role in the Hatchet films, along with James Duvall, Mircea Monroe, M.D. Walton, and several others as a group of friends who go out to a cabin in the woods for a weekend (if I had a dollar for every time I used a variation of the above sentence in a review for a horror film). They discover a board game in the cabin, which has been possessed with cockamamie powers from years past, and their choice to play the game allows for dark secrets and repressed demons to resurface, as well as a twisted turn of demonic presences to appear.
In a basic sense, the film feels like an adult Jumanji, complete with the haunted board game and the uncertain circumstances that arouse from playing it. At very least the film remains mildly intriguing just to simply see where it will go. Often I find the first twenty-five minutes of a horror film, more-so than any other genre, to be the make-it-or-break-it minutes of a horror film. Very few horror films rebound after that first twenty-five minutes and I was always curious to see where The Black Waters of Echo's Pond would end up.
That's not to say the project doesn't become flabby and a bit misguided in the latter half. As in real life, the bickering between the friends gets to be a bit insufferable. Conversations feel like they've been repeated and dialog clearly feels like it is becoming strained and repetitive. However, I applaud the trio of writers, Michael Berenson, Gabriel Bologna (who also directs), and Sean Clark for attempting to guide this horror piece into a more dialog-driven spectacle.
On the contrary, when marketing your film as one of the horror genre, you need to deliver scares in some way, shape, or form. For the trio of writers, this seems like it was an afterthought. Most of the gore and horror elements arrive around fifteen minutes before the film ends, cementing that this wasn't the writers immediate focus seeing as it's hardly a focus at all. The scares are mildly effective, but often second-rate and only emphasize a blandly eerie vibe.
What you're left with upon viewing The Black Waters of Echo's Pond is simply entertainment, a decent fantasy element exercised efficiently, passable dialog, forgettable scares, and some very nice black and teal cinematography that can only emphasize the uncomfortable atmosphere. Take it as it is and you'll find an experience at least more effective than the latest sequel or remake playing at the multiplex.
Starring: Robert Patrick, Danielle Harris, James Duval, Nick Mennell, Mircea Monroe, and M.D. Walton. Directed by: Gabriel Bologna.
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