Movie Review

The Black Waters of Echos Pond

‘The Black Waters’ is truly a horror

Danielle Harris and James Duval encounter a mystical board game. Danielle Harris and James Duval encounter a mystical board game.
By Lucy Barber
Globe Correspondent / April 9, 2010

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‘The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond’’ is the Special Victims Unit edition of “Jumanji.’’ These waters are gory and sexually suggestive, and they overfloweth with unoriginality.

Where does one even begin with a movie like this? How about the opening sequence? It’s sepia-toned and people are carrying gas lanterns, so we know we’re dealing with the past. Turns out it’s 1927 and we’re in Turkey. Of course! That’s where magic comes from.

Before you know it, several men looking like extras from the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland uncover an ancient (tip-off, it’s covered in dust) demonic stone tablet with an etching of Pan. “The modern world has never seen anything like it,’’ one of the hatted men remarks. Well, I’m pretty sure they have. Everything from this movie was ripped from the pages of clichéd Hollywood terror — if those pages were the composition notebooks of the student filmmaker, still mad at the cool kids who took his lunch money.

“Black Waters’’ is the Kidz Bop version of “Saw.’’ No one needed to hear a chorus of children singing “Party in the U.S.A.,’’ and no one needs this. But the movie continues anyway, and suddenly we’re hurled into the present. We know it’s the present because now everyone looks like a castoff from a Nickelback audition. Also, the caption tells us so.

The setting this time is Maine, where nine friends are convening on Beacon’s Isle to spend some quality time together and commune with nature. (That always works out well.) Some of the friends have accents. Some of them don’t. None of them seems to have any relation to the rifle-toting man with an unexplained Southern drawl who owns the house they’re staying in. Without a television, what are the kids to do but stumble upon a board game made from mystical pieces that were found 80 years ago in Eastern Europe? Here’s where writer-director Gabriel Bologna really stirs things up — this game has a pond in the center of the board that reveals the characters’ secretest secret desires.

The game is a lot like Truth or Dare without the dare. It prompts ugly grudges to come out from their hiding places. And, man, are they ever juicy: One guy helped his friend get a promotion, and the “friend’’ never even bothered to say thank you. The nerve!

Bunny-suit guy from “Donnie Darko’’ is in the film. So are Robert Patrick from “Terminator 2’’ and the twins from “Grindhouse.’’ While B-list is usually synonymous with gratuitous nudity and violence, these admirable qualities are nowhere to be found in “Black Waters.’’ An hour in, there is still nary a breast or gruesome mutilation scene in sight. Bologna’s horror story has the pacing of “Tuesdays With Morrie.’’

In 10 years, this movie could easily take its place among cult classics like “The Room.’’ For now, it’s better left in the bowels of a Turkish cave.

Lucy Barber can be reached at


THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO’S POND Directed and written by: Gabriel Bologna

Starring: Robert Patrick, James Duval, Danielle Harris

At: Revere, Cambridge Fresh Pond, suburbs

Running time: 91 minutes

Rated: R (gore, drug use, sexuality)

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