Padey is also Director, Cinematographer, and, just because he obviously has some spare time on his hands, also composed the soundtrack. Martinez is also an Executive Producer and, of course, plays the lead role of Sara who, shortly after visiting her childhood friend Will (Sean Osmond) starts having strange water related visions, often resulting in her being inextricably transported from her apartment living room to the bottom of the swimming pool where something invisible and malevolent tries to prevent her from reaching the surface. In addition to her friend Will, the apartment block is home to a group of buffed and tanned twenty-somethings (maybe it is Melrose Place). There’s Kate (Josephine Phoenix) the caring nurse, Zac (Dennis Mencia) the bodybuilding, narcissistic model, Alex (Raul Walder) the slightly goth, socially awkward loner and Will’s girlfriend, Lindsay (Natalie Blackman) who’s headed off to the airport just before Sara arrives. Oh, and there’s Jennifer as well (Omara Garcia) but she’s only around for the prologue scene where we see whatever’s in the pool drag her under until she not only drowns… she vanishes.
It’s a pretty neat set up with a pretty good opener but once we’ve established the threat and the characters that Sara thinks she can depend on as well as (more importantly) those who she’s suspicious and wary of, the story starts to meander in too many directions to keep us focused on the main game – which is, of course, what the hell’s happening in the pool? It’s these times, when we break out of the chamber piece to meet Alex’s nasty stepfather, or for Sara to consult the strange old fortune teller or to follow Lindsay on her secret trip to Greece to try and find out the origins of the thing in the water, that the narrative becomes overly complicated. We spend too much time trying to keep track of all these tangents, rather than being scared by the liquid tendrils of the entity that eventually rise from water (The water creature reminded me a bit of the ‘water-tentacle’ from James Cameron’s The Abyss… obviously, not as great a CGI effect as that was but, considering the low budget, a pretty well- realised creature). Unfortunately, these departures from the heart of the story also result in more and more implausible elements and that collectively serve to undermine the whole thing.
Eventually, though, the story finds its way back to its focus on the pool and our handful of characters in time to make a reasonably satisfying end with a nice twist or two (which you’ll probably guess) and a really nice final shot. But, by the time we get there I, for one, was a bit confused about what the creature was and what the ‘rules’ of its particular corner of the horror universe were. For me, these kind of films live or die by their ability to quickly and easily establish the rules of the evil force at the story’s heart and then, to stick to them. DROWNING ECHO (not a great title, by the way) plays a bit fast and loose with its rules. Early on in the film, there’s a terrific idea that uses other sources of water as the means by which Sara is wrenched back to the bottom of the pool against her will. This is such a strong device that it’s a shame to see it diluted (excuse the pun) by a lack of consistency in its application alongside a number of other ideas about how and why the creature exerts itself on our heroes. It’s disappointing, because there’re a lot of good ideas here, that with the best of intentions, just don’t end up reaching their potential.
DROWNING ECHO is now available on VOD via High Octane Pictures.