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Black Waters Of Echo's Pond, The

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    Ian Jane
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  • Black Waters Of Echo's Pond, The



    Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Released on: September 10, 2013.
    Director: Gabriel Bologna
    Cast: Robert Patrick, Danielle Harris, Electra Avellan, Arcadiy Golubovich
    Year: 2009
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Co-written and directed by Gabriel Bologna and completed in 2009 (and only just seeing release at the time of this writing), The Black Waters Of Echo's Pond had some festival screenings here and there but basically seems to have been shelved until now.

    The film begins with a prologue set in Turkey decades ago where an archeological dig uncovers some artifacts that seem to stem back to the ancient worship of the god Pan. These artifacts are used to build a Jumangi-esque boardgame which is then hidden away.

    Cut to the present day, or 2009 at least, where we meet Anton (Arcadiy Golubovich) who has arranged for a group of his friends to head out to the island home of a drunken shotgun wielding guy named Pete (Robert Patrick) for some rest and relaxation. Accompanying Anton is his wife Erica (Elise Avellan) and her twin sister Renee (Electra Avellan), her fiance Josh (Nick Mennell), a friend named Kathy (Danielle Harris) and her husband Trent (Walker Howard), and friends Robert (M.D. Walton), Veronique (Mircea Monroe) and her 'new boobs' and Rick (James Duval). After everyone settles in, the power goes out and when Anton heads into the basement to fix it, he falls through the stairs and finds a hidden room. What's in the room? The game, of course, and this being a horror movie and all, he brings it up stairs and everyone decides to play.

    So as they roll the dice, move their game pieces and read from the cards strange things start to happen. Questions arise that require brutally honest answers and as all of the group's dark secrets are exposed it becomes quite obvious that they've not been completely truthful with one another despite years of friendship. Things start to take a turn for the macabre when violence erupts and before you know it people are being hacked up with chainsaws, chicks are making out (sort of - don't get too excited) and Pan is wandering around the house looking spooky but not really doing much more than that.

    There are interesting ideas here, but sadly they never amount to much. The movie attempts to bring in a supernatural angel with the opening sequence and the physical appearance of Pan throughout the movie but never really manages to tie it all together and we just sort of wind up with a creepy goat guy poking his head out the window or leering around a corner. It's a neat visual but it doesn't wind up meaning much. And they ending? Big, big cop out there. Oldest trick in the book and so completely beyond cliché that it's almost funny. Almost, but not quite. So ultimately the story winds up missing the mark here and as such, it's more or less a series of horror movie clichés with some admittedly interesting visual touches thrown in here and there (the game pieces look neat).

    The acting? It's not so good. Danielle Harris is likeable here as she always seems to be. Her character has some depth and when the backstory is revealed as to how it ties into her past, she shows good range. James Duval is halfway decent here as well, and Robert Patrick (who seems to have somehow managed to channel Michael Rooker and who also produced the movie) is also fine, even if his character is as one dimensional as they come. But then we come to Arcadiy Golubovich and his lousy moustache, he's just flat out bad, laughably so, and the Avellan girls (yeah, they were the Babysitter Twins in Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse entry, Planet Terror and Machete)? They're awful. They whine, they bitch, they complain and they're very easy to strongly dislike. The movie tries to play them off as sexy but they grate on the nerves so bad that it never works.

    There are a few solid gore set pieces here. Pete seems to like to leave tools and sharp things scattered around his house so that means there's a fair bit of carnage in the last half hour or so of the movie. Effects junkies will appreciate that most of it seems to have been done without CGI (though the effects that do use CGI use it very obviously, it sticks out like a sore thumb). Sadly it's not really enough to save this one. The first hour drags and the pay off just flat out is not worth it. We've seen this all before and what little creativity does pop up in the script fizzles out and is puzzlingly completely discarded before the end credits hit the screen.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer is framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. The movie was shot on digital video and so the image is, at the very least, very clean. The opening sequence is very soft, almost looking like standard definition and very much devoid of detail. Once we switch over to the modern day, however, things take a big step forward in clarity. This still isn't going to compete with the best high definition transfers on the market but it does offer good color reproduction even if the black levels are a bit weak. There are no compression artifacts or edge enhancement issues. This looks okay. Not great, but okay.

    The only audio option on the disc is a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix with optional subtitles provided in English only. The quality of the mix is pretty solid, there's good use made of the rear channels during some of the more active scenes while the dialogue stays pretty clear throughout. Levels are balanced well and if bass response isn't going to blow you away, the low end is decent enough. Not the most amazing mix you'll ever here but it's certainly sufficient.

    The only extra is an alternate opening scene that is actually kind of cool and involves a woman, a bathtub and some leaches. Outside of that? Menus and chapter stops, that's it. No trailer, we don't even get previews for other Anchor Bay titles before the menu loads.

    The Final Word:

    The Black Waters Of Echo's Pond has its moments but as whole, it really isn't very good. Some of the acting is more than questionable, the script is riddled with holes and clichés and the only thing that the movie really has going for it is the likeable Danielle Harris and some decent gore effects. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray looks and sounds okay but extras are slim. There were good ideas here, it's too bad that they were never fully exploited.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





















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