A horror board game as scary as Candyland but not as much fun

The Black Waters of Echo's Pond

on April 14, 2010 by Pam Grady
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A group of generically pretty, young people travels to a remote island off the coast of Maine where a board game invites terror in the ho-hum The Black Waters of Echo Pond. Derivative and about as exciting as a checkers tournament (albeit one where the inevitable chainsaw makes a blood spattering appearance), this pallid horror movie is bloody but not even remotely scary. Curious horror buffs may show up for the opening weekend of this limited release, but poor word of mouth should doom it for a quick ride to DVD oblivion.

After the board game inspires a killing spree among a group of archaeologists and their benefactor in the 1920s, the game somehow ends up stored in the basement of the group's reclusive host, Pete (Robert Patrick). A seemingly tight-knit group of friends—with the exception of Rick (James Duval), whom they all seem to hate—the fissures in their relationships begin to show once they find and start playing the game. A kind of "Truth or Dare," without the "Dare," it brings out all sorts of desires, resentments and jealousies, along with demonic possession that expresses itself in murderous rage. Well, the name of the game is "Pandemonium" and to play it is to unleash hell on earth.

Neither cheesy fun nor thrill fest, The Black Waters of Echo Pond is as awkward as its title. There is no rooting interest in any of the characters; they are all bland stereotypes that never become more than fodder for the coming carnage. More problematic is the fact that it takes forever to get going after a promising start with the 1927 prologue. Director Gabriel Bologna and his co-writers spend way too much time setting up the relationships between the characters and even after the game starts it takes a good chunk of time before anything happens. Watching a bunch of people move pieces around a board while mouthing bad dialogue is not exactly scintillating. When the action finally engages, it is far too late in the game and far too predictable.

Distributor: Parallel Media
Cast: Robert Patrick, Danielle Harris, James Duval, Nick Mennell, Mircea Monroe, Walker Howard and M.D. Walton
Director: Gabriel Bologna
Screenwriter: Michael Berenson, Gabriel Bologna and Sean Clark
Producer: Jason Loughridge and Raymond J. Markovich
Genre: Horror
Rating: R for bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity.
Running time: 92 min.
Release date: April 9 ltd.

Tags: horror, board game
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