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“Drowning Echo” does quite a lot with an ambitious story and a low budget, but its limitations mean it is unlikely to make much of a splash.

Drowning Echo

Drowning Echo opens with a woman struggling to swim and keep hold of the edge of a swimming pool. Her nose is bleeding and, though there is no one visible near her, she’s clearly trying to fight something off. Then her eyes go milky white and the screen cuts to black.

The 2019 movie centers on a woman named Sara (Itziar Martinez), who is visiting her old friend Will (Sean Ormond) at his apartment complex in Florida. Her first night there includes a cookout at the pool with the few other residents at the complex: an arrogant model named Zac (Dennis Mencia), a friendly nurse named Kate (Josephine Phoenix) and a brooding man named Alex (Raul Walder). Will’s girlfriend Lindsay (Natalie Blackman) would normally also be there, but she’d recently left for a trip to Greece.

Alex angrily whispers to Sara that she isn’t safe there and should never have come, then he disappears up to his apartment. Everyone is understandably weirded out, but the rest of them go their separate ways not long after — except Sara. She chooses to stay and swim by herself. When she goes back into her apartment and drinks from a bottle of water, she is almost immediately in some kind of pain, and then she’s back in the pool, seemingly being weighed down by some invisible force. But this is more than a case of sleep walking.

There are little hints sprinkled throughout the film about something deep, dark and supernatural.

Lindsay collects ‘old books’ that turn out to possibly have some answers in them, and later explains that her trip to Greece was to try ending the entity’s reign. Alex is maybe the only other person in the complex who’s figured out that something about the swimming pool isn’t right.

This film is clearly low-budget; it has CGI reminiscent of The Abyss. The camera work is not great, especially early on in the film — one shot of people at the apartment complex is even partially blocked by one of the building’s support poles. The dialogue is also not a strong point of the film, though it does seem to get better over the course of it.

But that’s not to say that it’s all bad. Some of the effects are kind of cool and disorienting. The acting, while not Oscar-caliber, is far from the worst you’ve seen. The whole plot of the movie feels original, and there are a few truly scary moments. Once you’re about 40 minutes into Drowning Echo, you get a good jump scare and some much-needed exposition shortly after. There are also a couple of really great scenes with a psychic (Omara Garcia).

The movie has multiple twists and turns, and in some ways is similar to a film like DEVIL, because it’s so contained. Interestingly enough, most of the heavy lifting was done by the film’s star, Itziar Martinez, along with Georges Padey; the two wrote and produced it together, with Padey in charge of the music, cinematography and direction. It was an ambitious project — there’s no way it is easy to film in and around water so much.

One final interesting thing about this film is that it was originally titled Nereus (which is how you’d most likely have to look it up online). According to Wikipedia, Nereus is a character in Greek mythology who was the son of Pontus (the Sea) and Gaia (the Earth). There’s no indication as to why the name might have changed — or why it has a working title of The Complex on IMDb — but it’s a fun little fact.

If you want a movie to watch alone at night to get scared, this probably isn’t the one. Rather, this would be a fun movie to watch with a group at home.

Drowning Echo will be  available on iTunes and other on-demand services, as well as DVD, beginning April 4th from High Octane Pictures. 

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