The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond

The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond

Film review by: Witney Seibold

What is it about cursed objects (maps, books, daggers, crystals) found in creepy, earth-floor basements that compels people to muck around with ‘em? I, personally, would certainly try to invoke a demon from a Necronomicon I found in an abandoned dungeon, but I admit that I’m kind of twisted, and like to think that I’ve seen enough horror movies that I could actually do battle with whatever monsters were to appear.

The cursed object in question in Gabriel Bologna’s “The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond” is a hugely elaborate, mechanized board game. It is played with gorgeously carved tokens, the board is mechanized, there is a little robot skeleton (no lie!), and the game cards you read are like a mixture of Truth Or Dare and Jumanji. You have to admit something personal and damning, and await either forgiveness or condemnation from your co-players. In the center of the board is a reflective pond that reveals fantasies or details of your peers’ crimes.

The board game is, I am sad to report, the most fascinating thing about this movie. The machinations of the game itself are far more fascinating than the petty squabbles and jealous tirades of the callow, fatuous, twentysomething cast. Watching the little robot skeleton dictate which cards to draw was a far more intriguing narrative force than the boring, straight-to-video-level plotting. If you’d rather be playing the game exhibited than watching your “heroes” play it, something is wrong.

The premise will be familiar to anyone who has seen any low-budget or straight-to video horror flick since 1981 (This is a film that comes from the “Night of the Demons” school of screenwriting): Nine archetypes spirit themselves away to an isolated island for a weekend of drinking and debauchery. Among them are guilty stoner James Duval, sassy brunette Danielle Harris, sassy bisexual blonde Mircea Monroe, some horrible douchebag types with little personality (Arcadiy Golubavich, M.D. Walton, and Walker Howard), and a pair of twins (Electra and Elise Avellan). In the basement of their creepy rented cabin (which belongs to Robert Patrick, chewing scenery as a grizzled hillbilly), is the haunted board game.

It’s unclear how all these things link up, but the partygoers begin to drift off into various rooms to either shag one another or torture one another. There is a promised foursome which is disappointingly halted, and there is an offscreen lesbian tryst. Sometimes peoples’ eyeballs turn jet black, indicating that they’ve been possessed by some monster. What’s more, there’s a goat demon lurking about the cabin – supposedly Pan – but it doesn’t wreak any of its own havoc.

A character gets tied to a table and chainsawed in half. Another takes a rake to the face. One is harpooned through the chest. A woman gets her breasts severed and stuffed down the brassiere of another woman. That’s a new one on me.

In an odd way, this film’s totally pabulum story and rote, uncreative direction was kind of refreshing. For a brief 90 minutes, we are relieved of high-concept remakes and gritty torture porn, and reminded that some of the old formulae are still alive in the film world. This doesn’t make “The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond” necessarily good, but it certainly makes the low budget oddity more enjoyable. By the end I was filled with more nostalgia that dread.

This film played in theaters for about a minute, afterward consigned to video store hell. As far as odd discoveries found at the last minute on a video store hunt, “The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond” falls exactly in the middle. Perhaps here’s a hint: I have included a picture of the film’s poster below. Looks straight outta 1985, doesn’t it?

Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

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