Friday, September 27, 2013

The Black Waters Of Echo's Pond (2009): Bogged Down By Mediocrity

Stop me if you've heard this before. A group of archeologists stumble upon an ancient artifact in the middle east and all hell is unleashed upon the explorers' return. Hmm. The Exorcist, right?  Or maybe this one:  a group of friends travel to an isolated home for a weekend of recreational sex and drinking.  Cabin FeverEvil DeadApril Fool's Day?  I know! The Cabin in the Woods? Well what about this?  When friends find an ancient board game and decide to play, it's the worst mistake of their lives.  Witchboard? Open Graves, right?

No, no, and......NO.  What we have here is the antithesis of originality: The Black Waters of Echo's Pond. My oh my.  It's never a good sign when a movie sits on a shelf for several years, either. Generally means there was a reason for the delay.  In this case, it was mediocrity.

This should have been a decent film, and it does have some good kills and a semi-good cast -thanks to always welcome scream queen Danielle Harris, Robert Patrick (who has little more than a cameo, so don't get too excited), and James Duval (a 40-something playing a 20-something). But I couldn't really see anything here that would have me buying this one as a keeper, even though I wouldn't go as far as to say it was a horrendous bomb. It just clears my 'Mindless Movie Monday' radar....

As mentioned, the film starts out in 1927 Turkey, where archeologists have dug up an ancient tablet with Pan's likeness on it. That can never be a good sign, and as expected, this tablet turns up later - in the form of a crazy board game - for a group of friends to stumble upon. Nine pals are set up at an isolated house on an island in Maine, there to relive bad memories (because they can't just go there to have fun) and make wild accusations and claims against each other. All this is made so much easier once they have found said board game in the basement of the house... and the game takes on a life of its own.   This is when the shit hits the fan and the hearts start to break.

As each player moves their piece around the board they choose a card to read. These cards have the weirdest instructions on them which, without spoiling the film, I'll just say play out just like a truth or dare game.  At first, it seems like an enjoyable game, as may of the suggestions end up taking on a sexual meaning - and unusual couples start forming and taking their "dares" to the bedroom instead. The remaining friends start to nit-pick each other, until it turns considerably uglier. Jealousy, regret, and outright anger take over and that's when things finally start to amp up.

That said, when the inevitable gratuitous nudity and some chainsaw action does come, it just feels like same movie, different day. There really is nothing that differentiates it from any other "ancient evil unleashed on unsuspecting victims". Yes, there is some decent gore. And yes, Danielle Harris is old hat at these films and has no problem making this film her own. But it just fell flat for me.  Most of the acting was wooden, and though the crazy Pan character does conjure up some creepy images, and I would have liked to have seen more from him, but it was a lost concept, as it started to feel like a less-than-stellar X-Files episode when all the characters became "possessed" and got the black oil-type eyes so famous on the sci-fi/horror series.

The ending, when it finally (blissfully) came, left me feeling mostly cheated, as there is no compelling reason for everything that happened, no befitting ending for everything we'd just witnessed - so I can't even say I was happy it was over.

 I feel sure they were trying for a real throw-back style of horror film, and yet I shrug my shoulders and have to ask: why?  The original moments in the film (and I mean moments here, truly) are so few and far between. I can't understand why they didn't take those elements and try to make something truly distinctive, because for me - this one just kind of stunk up the place. 


Marie Robinson said...

My boyfriend Pan is lookin' good!!

Heather Santrous said...

I went way out of my way in order to catch this one at a theater that was showing it. I had learned about Echo's Pond while at a horror con, and I like Danielle Harris, so I decided to check it out. Like you, I was very disappointed by it. Sadly, it is still being pushed at the horror con I sometimes go to. At times I felt like standing near the table and try to warn people. Good review and agree with it completely.

Christine Hadden said...

Heather: I also rented this one (thank heavens I didn't buy it!) because of Danielle Harris - she usually can keep a film above water. But this one was just so...mediocre. I don't know what else to call it. I wasn't awful, but showed me very little originality. Can't get those 90 minutes back...

Alice Schofield said...

Ugh, horror movies with no originality are the worst. I prefer a film that's straight up awful, at least I can have a laugh at that.

Are you going to do your festival of lists for October again? I loved the past two years. As a fellow list fan, I was wondering if you'd be okay if I did something similar for my blog - a top ten for each day leading up to Halloween. I wanted to check with you first, and it's no problem if you don't want me to :)

Christine Hadden said...

Hi Alice,

Thanks for stopping by!

We're not doing the festival of lists this year (so draining and time consuming and Marie and I are both pretty busy with some other horror-related endeavors) - but we ARE doing a post every day for the whole month so I hope you'll check back & enjoy the October fun!

We certainly don't mind you doing a list a day - as long as the lists are not exactly the same as ones we already did - hit us up with a link so we can follow along!

Alice Schofield said...

Thank you! The lists I've made so far are here:

I'm enjoying the guilty pleasures posts - The Gay B&B of Terror is so much fun! I've made all my friends watch it.