Lionsgate // 2007 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 18th, 2008
Beneath the calm surface lies the deepest nightmare.
Another one of the "8 Films to Die For" from the Afterdark Horrorfest, Lake Dead is a horror flick that I wouldn't sprain my ankle, much less die, for.
One night, a young woman named Brielle (Kelsey Crane) is wakened in the middle of the night with the news that a grandfather she never knew she had croaked, and left a hotel to her and her two sisters. Excited to check out the new property, as well as learn a bit about why she was never informed of her grandfather, she and her sisters and her friends drive deep into the mountains for a getaway.
Unbeknownst to her, a family of lunatic rednecks has infested the property. Led by a deranged matriarch the family will stop at nothing to ensure that everyone who belongs in the family stays forever and those who don't suffers gruesome deaths at the hands of two inbred killers. What lies ahead is a weekend of strangulations, bludgeoning, impaling, and attempted incest.
Yeah, no thanks. Despite some nifty gore moments, Lake Dead is about as riveting as Lake Champlain; no, that comparison doesn't make any sense but I couldn't come up with something clever that had the word "Lake" in it. In short, I have few nice things to say for what is ultimately a derivative and -- worst of all -- boring excursion into hillbilly survival horror.
Lake Dead isn't aggressively bad, just a fat waste of time. It starts off decent enough, with some guy getting whacked because of some big secret and then a quick edit later and you've got a girl lounging around in painted-on underwear and that girl is shortly killed in a ludicrously violent way and tossed into the titular Lake and promptly all the potential evaporates and the film descends into genre cliché hell.
You know the rigmarole: a group of semi-attractive, lethally annoying, horny as all-get-out twenty-somethings congregate for a vacation getaway which leads to death and screaming and poor decision-making. The characters that populate Lake Dead are completely forgettable; as such, their inevitable deaths mean nothing. But horror movies don't make their bones on the quality of their cannon fodder but, well, a bunch of things, not the least of which is a memorable villain.
Another strike-out. The killers are two inbred nutjobs, a genre heavy that has gained some traction with films like The Hills Have Eyes and Wrong Turn and, of course, the granddaddy of hillbilly horror, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but here, there's little to be fearful of. As horrifying murderers go, these two guys go down like punks. You might not notice their absence anyway because they eat up so little runtime. Which is unfortunate because in a slasher this dull, every little bit helps and they showed real potential for nastiness with the first kill of the movie.
Instead of thrills and chills, you'll have to put up with a narrative that is cumbersome and a reveal that is unsatisfying. After a decent stretch where our redneck psychos wreak some havoc on a couple of characters boinking in the forest, our heroes seek help from a shifty cop and all momentum screeches to a halt. From that point on it's exposition of a scheme that isn't that interesting and some half-baked attempts at suspense. I won't go much further, but when you figure out what the lunatic family is after you, like me, will likely tell yourself, "I could have spent the last 90 minutes woodworking. And I don't even woodwork!"
No-frills disc: clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 audio with no extras save for the Miss Horrorfest webisodes that accompany each After Dark release.
Don't stop for the view of this Lake. Just keep on driving.
What are you still doing here? I said move along.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated