New Horror Releases: Drowning Echo (2019) - Reviewed

Sometimes an idea that may seem like it cannot be filmed ends up being inspired and incredibly creepy, as is the case with the original Final Destination. Death is an unseen form whose plan cannot be thwarted, no matter how many attempts. And sometimes an idea should be talked about, then thrown out, because it is just bad, which is the case with Drowning Echo from director Georges Padey. 

Also known as Nereus, as well as The Complex, this is literally a movie about a swimming pool in an apartment complex that is killing people. Well, to be more precise, water itself is the enemy. The story focuses on Sara (Itziar Martinez, who also co-wrote and executive produced the film) who comes to Miami to visit her childhood friend, Will (Sean Ormond), and discovers that swimming in the pool has some sort of unseen presence that repeatedly tries to drown her, even when she’s nowhere near it. 

To say the plot and the film itself is watered down would be an understatement. This is just bad. The acting is terrible, the writing is amateur at best, and the music (also provided by Padey) is beyond on the nose. It plays like a soap opera throughout the movie and tells us when we should be feeling sad, or when we should be frightened, because what is displayed on screen clearly does not do the job.

Despite the film’s many flaws, there is one inspired sequence, in which Will’s girlfriend, Lindsay (Natalie Blackman), enters a monastery in Greece to vanquish the unseen force in the Miami swimming pool. It’s a whole thing connected to Greek lore about which I am honestly bored writing. Still, the way in which this sequence is shot – found footage style via a Skype call on Lindsay’s cell phone – offers the creepiest imagery in the whole film. Unfortunately, it is undone by the characters’ stupidity. Lindsay is with a friend who is helping her “solve” the mystery of what is going on. They are sneaking around the monastery to get to a well (again, I will spare you from the details), only they are shining a flashlight the entire time, which easily alerts the demon monks (you read that right) to their whereabouts. You may find yourself asking, “Water you doing, fools?!”

Of everyone in the movie, Martinez at least tries to elevate the material. The others all seem bored, and I can’t necessarily say I blame them. There are also some visual effects that appear to pay homage to James Cameron’s The Abyss, which I guess look cool? Other than that, this film has nothing going for it. I’d be curious to see Martinez in a better role in a much better movie to see if she’s really got the acting chops she appears to here. Her talents are, sadly, wasted.

Horror movies are never in short supply, but good horror movies are harder to come by. The best thing to be said about Drowning Echo is that it reminds you to appreciate that good movies out there, because for every great horror film, there are seemingly hundreds of bad ones. Drowning Echo is so bad that it takes the quench away from water. You could even say it is a shallow attempt at making water frightening. 

--Matt Giles