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John’s Horror Corner: The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond (2009), the horror genre’s answer to Jumanji

November 28, 2013

MY CALL:  Greek mythology meets evil Jumanji in this formulaic, serviceable horror movie.  MOVIES LIKE The Black Waters of Echo’s PondOpen Graves (2009).  SIDEBAR:  This movie was released in 2009, but did not see a DVD/Blu-Ray release until 2013.

If you call yourself a fan of horror or say “I like scary movies” when really you watch a scary movie about once a month at best, then you have no business watching this movie.  You won’t like it!  If you’re a horrorhound who tries to watch everything then you’ll probably enjoy this.  It’s not great, but it’s entertaining and has its own clichéd direct-to-DVD horror charm.  This may have a cookie-cutter plot, but it also comes with a couple of clever reveals (nothing epic, but clever), festive use of gore and some funny scenes.  This movie was made to be “fun” not to achieve critical acclaim, so get together with some friends, crack open a few beers and enjoy.

Long ago… Following some ancient instructions read off a wall in the Temple of Pan, a group of explorers make a board game that would best be described as a cross between Truth or Dare and evil Game of Jumanji complete with question cards, game pieces and dice.  The theme of the game is Pandemonium, the mythical world of the Pans and seductive nymphs which serves as a pathway to Heaven or Hell.

Present day… Nine friends go to a Maine cabin on an island and stumble across this board game.  The nine friends include Kathy (Danielle Harris; Hatchet, Friday the 13th, Halloween), Veronique (Mircea Monroe; The Change-Up, Magic Mike), Renee and Erica (Electra and Elise Avellan; Grindhouse: Planet Terror and Death Proof, Machete, Machete Kills), and Pete (Robert Patrick; True Blood, Terminator 2: Judgment Day) serves as the local horror harbinger.

“Oh, look. The game instructions are written on this scroll.  Not weird at all.”

When played, this ancient game brings out the worst in its players as they take turns answering uncomfortably provocative personal questions. They do so with such uncharacteristic honesty, that it generates a lot of animosity.  They start having supernatural visions and the game board starts moving on its own, but nobody notices that anything weird is going on.  For reasons neither known nor explained, these twenty-somethings become possessed by “the Pandemonium” of the game and start killing each other.

There are various degrees of being possessed in this movie.  Possessed (above), black evil eye possessed (below), and…

REALLY effin’ demon-horned possessed!

And bleeding-eye identical twin possessed.

The special effects aren’t much, featuring a “Pan monster” that looks like a man with a giant animatronic goat head and glowing red eyes.  And attempts at jump scares lack effective enough transitions to elicit fright.  But “scaring us” doesn’t seem to be the filmmakers’ goal…making us smile, however, does.  As such we find that they do have some fun with the gore–they really celebrate it.  Danielle Harris’ death scene was definitely my favorite.

“Wait…I die in this?”

“Oh no, Danielle Harris. I must have made a wrong turn. I’m actually looking for Allison Lohman so I can drag her to Hell with my Lamia-lookin’ ass.  But while I’m stuck on this random BFE island in Maine I’ll guess I’ll make a night of it.”

The acting isn’t exactly strong, but is above average for a horror movie of such limited release (400 theaters for a single weekend).   But this movie is fun and good for an uncritical, light-hearted evening among horror fans.

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