This is a movie I knew virtually nothing about going in. I seem to recall coming across the title a couple of times, but never really paid it any mind. What got my attention was its appearance on the schedule for the local cineplex. So, I took a quick look at the trailer, didn't think it looked all that great but felt a little obligated to support small horror films when they come to the big screen. If I don't, who will? Ahh, the burden of being a genre fan. Now who's with me?
I only wish the horror genre would get some real support for smaller films. It has been a real strange market over the past few years, or it may be that I just happened to notice it more recently. It appears we get stuck with stuff like The Collector, House (which appears to be headed back to the big screen), and now this, while movies horror fans want to see like Trick 'R Treat and Midnight Meat Train get shafted. That may sound a little bitter or I may be suffering buyer's remorse — please don't get me wrong. I am happy for horror big and small on the big screen. For example, I was ecstatic to see Frozen not long ago. I even wish that After Dark's annual horror fest was a little more widespread, I'd go.
In any case, I went off as the dutiful little horror fan, not knowing what to expect. I was hoping for a low budget gem, no masterpiece, and I was hoping for some fun. Sadly, what I found was not much fun at all. There was some decent gore and a concept that could have been something special. Instead I see a movie filled with poor execution, even worse acting, and an experience that just dulls the senses.
The Black Waters of Echo's Pond does not have any black waters nor an Echo's Pond. Not that I recall anyway. Instead of worrying about water, echos, and ponds, I saw a movie that felt a little like a mash-up of Jumanji, Witchboard, and Slaughter Night. The difference being the majority of the entertainment value has been sucked out of it.
The movie begins with a flashback to Turkey where Pan's temple has been unearthed and the search for his lair, Pandemonium, is on. Once discovered, they find directions that lead to the creation of a board game… yes, a board game. The artifacts are moved to Beacon Isle off the coast of Maine for some unknown reason. When the financier of the expedition arrives, all of the men are dead, having killed each other off.
Fast forward to the present and forget about potential mythological horror with Pan as the ring leader. If you want a film with Pan you would be best to leave this behind and get yourself a copy of Pan's Labyrinth. We move into familiar territory as we have a collection of friends, filling the usual roles we have come to expect complete with token characters, flirts, goody-goodies, and bland types. They are all coming together to vacation at a large old home on the lonely island, despite the fact that collectively I doubt they would ever actually hang out together much less be acquaintances.
Anyway, after being scared by Pete (Robert Patrick slumming it up), the owner of the home and land, the friends settle into to the house. Over dinner they are told of Pan and after dinner the lights go out! Wow. I did not see that coming. This leads to the discovery of the board game. They decide to play the game. What follows is a game that sees the friends reveal secrets, insecurities, and gripes to each other. This escalates to violence as their eyes turn black and they grab whatever weapons are handy.
It does gain a little momentum towards the end, but it is a long, dull slog to get there. None of the characters are memorable and the acting is pretty atrocious. Suffice to say, this is the sort of thing you usually find late night on the SyFy Channel.
Bottom line. If you feel you must, by all means go and check this out. Just be sure to keep your expectations very, very low. This is low budget horror that does not realize their core idea is better than what they made. One day the right horror films will make it to the big screen.