The Black Waters of Echo's Pond (2009)

April 29, 2010 - 11:52am | Johnny D
  Tags: Adamo Palladino, Arcadiy Golubovich, Danielle Harris, Declan Joyce, Electra Avellan, Elise Avellan, Gabriel Bologna, James Duval, Jason Loughridge, limited, M.D. Walton, Michael Berenson, Mircea Monroe, Nick Mennell, Nitsa Benchetrit, Parallel Media, Project 8 Films, Robert Patrick, Sean Clark, Sean Lawlor, Walker Howard

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Gabriel Bologna
Robert Patrick, Danielle Harris, Sean Lawlor, James Duval, Nick Mennell, Mircea Monroe, Arcadiy Golubovich, Electra Avellan, Elise Avellan, Walker Howard, M.D. Walton, Declan Joyce, Nitsa Benchetrit, Adamo Palladino, Jason Loughridge

I know, right?  Haven’t we been hearing about his movie for what seems like forever?  Oh the pains of independent filmmaking and the attempt to find a distribution deal that will at least use some lube when it fucks you in the ass. The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond didn’t do too shabby with securing a theatrical release…albeit a rather limited one.  Now the question is, is it worth your hard earned cash and time in seeking out a location that’s playing it.  I suppose it all depends on your expectations.

You see, Black Waters had a lot of old school sensibilities that harked back towards the horror glory days of the 80s.  Be not mistaken, my friends.  When I say old school sensibilities I’m not talking about like what Ti West did with House of the Devil.  I’m referring to the wicked schlocky gems that through everything and anything their imaginations (and budgets) could muster up in hope that something would stick.  Part slasher, part demonic possession thriller, part haunted house movie, and part creature feature(?), Black Waters tried mixing a little bit of everything with unsurprisingly mixed results.  But with an epic amount of blood flow and some super duper eye candy I found this rough around the edges movie turning into quite the guilty pleasure.

So a group of twenty-somethings heads to a completely secluded island to spend the weekend drinking margaritas, carrying out acts of sexual depravity, and whatever else a group of twenty-somethings can do in a deserted house in the middle of nowhere.  When the power goes out they whip out a board game where the players have to admit true feelings and secrets about their so called friends.  The players must also gaze into the pond in the middle of the game to view glimpses of past and future events.  After the game causes quite a sufficient amount of animosity and hatred amongst the group, each of them becomes possessed by the game and dispatches those who have gotten on their shit list.  And then a goat man shows up…and yeah…just kinda chills out.

If the story of an evil Jumanji sounds familiar it’s because you may be remembering the mediocre Eliza Dushku/Mike Vogel thriller, Open Graves, that premiered on SyFy last year.  But while that movie featured crap CGI that looked about as real as Heidi Montag’s face, Black Waters shines with its use of well executed practical effects.  And while Ms. Dushku is perfectly fine to look at, she holds not a candle to my scream queen wet dream, Danielle Harris.  Not a candle, I say!  Actually Danielle is pretty much the only reason I made an effort to find this movie.  Seriously, this bitch hasn’t aged in a decade.  While this is far from her best performance, she’s one of the stronger cast members when it comes to carrying out the long winded and questionable dialogue.

Unfortunately, some of the cast is either ridiculously miscast or just not that good.  We all remember the Crazy Babysitter Twins from Planet Terror and how they were pretty effing sweet, right?.  Robert Rodriguez wisely knew what his nieces would be able to pull off with their limited experience, but the powers that be behind Black Waters made the giant mistake of giving them lots of dialogue.  Lot and LOTS of dialogue.  They have really good screen presence, but that’s about as far as it goes.  The most groan inducing performance, however, comes from executive producer, Arcadiy Golubovich, as one of the twins’ husband.  Man he is just flat out terrible. 

At first I thought it might have been his strong accent, but the more the movie went on, the more it became evident that he should stick strictly to working behind the camera.  The biggest name in the cast is the T-1000 himself, Robert Patrick, as the po-dunk, backwaters owner of the island and he’s sadly wasted with a next-to-nothing part.  His role consists of mainly walking around in the darkness and not much more, which is a shame because who wouldn’t like to see some terminator ass kicking? 

While the story is a mixture of a lot of elements from much better films of the past, most evidently Evil Dead, I was relieved by the way everything played out.  There’s countless horror movies where the group of friends do nothing but bicker and moan because they just can’t stand one another.  It’s like, then why the hell are you friends with them?  When Black Waters starts out the friends seem to actually enjoy being around one another (with the exception of James Duvall’s character, but I’ll let it slide since it forwards the plot). 

I liked the way the characters back stories and faults came out while they were playing the game and then the hatred was sprung from that.  Telling you my absolutely favorite part of the movie, however, would mean revealing a major spoiler.  I’ll just say that the second to last scene involving Danielle Harris and a chainsaw completely struck me by surprise and had me and my bitch laughing our asses off.  Just a few more moments like this really could have elevated the movie in my eyes.

Gabrielle Bologna’s direction is fairly competent, although I think he should have worked with the actors a little more…perhaps some preproduction rehearsals.  Also there were scenes that dragged on and slowed down an otherwise moderately paced film.  Another pass through in the editing department could have quickened up these long dialogue scenes by removing awkward pauses and redundant information.  And then there’s the goat man.  Just…WTF?  If you’re going to throw something random like that in there it might be wise to flesh the idea out just a slight bit more.

Black Waters of Echo’s Pond is filled to the brim with everything that made 80s B-movies so loveable, including plenty of blood, bad acting, and gratuitous boobage.  If you’re down with these things then this movie is a harmless and fun way to kill an hour-and-a-half, despite its sometimes amateurish faults.  I wish there were still large audiences out there who sought out cheesy movies like this because the entire time I was in the near empty theater I kept thinking how awesome it would be with a packed audience of gore-hounds.

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Johnny D




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