APRIL 13, 2008
A buddy of mine was angry that I liked Doomsday despite the fact that it had zero originality to it (other than the sort of original idea of spending 40 million dollars to recreate a bunch of sequences from older movies and fashion some semblance of a story out of it). The lack of originality didn’t bother me too much, because I was having a blast watching it. The characters were fun, the locales were interesting, it had good makeup gags, etc. Entertainment for entertainment’s sake is perfectly fine every now and then. However, I cannot give Lake Dead the same leeway, because while it also doesn't have a single original idea that I could find, it failed to get the whole “fun” part right either (to be fair, they didn't seem to be intending it that way).
Ripping off Wrong Turn, Mother’s Day, Devil’s Rejects, Bloodlines (possibly – this came along after but who the hell saw Bloodlines?), and Motel Hell for pretty much its entire running time, Lake is technically proficient and reasonably well-paced, but the characters are completely terrible, the makeup is pretty much all (bad) CG, and the setting is Motel Hell, again. Both films were shot at Sable Ranch in California, and it was obvious to me from the goddamn gravel outside of the motel our characters have “inherited” that it was the same exact place. Recycling a locale is one thing when it’s an entirely different type of movie (the Griswolds, the Murtaughs, and the Monster Squad family all live on the same street, for example), but when the movie shares a few plot similarities with another one shot in the same goddamn house, it’s a bit distracting/annoying.
The film also contains one of the most idiotic plot contrivances I’ve ever seen in a movie. The girls inherit a motel when their grandfather dies, and at the funeral they tell their estranged father they are heading up there to see it. “Don’t go there!” he yells. “Please!” They say “no” and go anyway. Maybe, I dunno, tell your fucking CHILDREN that the place is run by their redneck uncle and grandmother, who plan on using the girls for breeding and/or just plain ol’ killing? He obviously knows this (he lied about their grandfather ever being alive at all, in order to 'protect' them), and yet waits a day to bother really doing anything about it. Also, for the plot to work, the girls can never question why they only have one set of grandparents (who/where the mother is – who the fuck knows, the movie exists in a world where such things aren’t important, despite the fact that almost every character in the movie is related).
Speaking of, the characters are poorly introduced. At the funeral, a blond girl is seen with our lead (also a blonde). The next time we see her, she is talking to the lead’s boyfriend. He’s telling her to hurry up and get ready so they can all go check out the motel, alluding to the fact that it’s her motel too. So we can just assume that the two girls are sisters, but the movie never explains this until about halfway through. But why is her possibly future brother-in-law the one to call her up? Do you call up your future in-laws and berate them for being late?
There’s also a third sister, thankfully not another blonde. But she IS the least pleasant character I’ve ever seen in a film (including those who aren’t “good guys”). She swears constantly for no reason, gets angry at pretty much everything anyone says to her, etc. Luckily she is the first to go, but still, the movie never quite recovers from spending most of the first 15 minutes of its running time on a character who should be instantly killed.
This brings me to another gripe: the movie’s complete lack of a mean streak. It’s like the girl is just a bitch only to ‘justify’ her death a few minutes later. The other victims are also jerks (another irritable bitch, a slut, and a guy who cheats on the irritable bitch with the slut); all of the ‘nice’ people survive. Come on! If screenwriter Daniel Couglin wrote Wrong Turn, Jeremy Sisto’s character would have survived, because he was a nice guy who cared about others. This just voids suspense – we know who will be safe just because they haven’t broken the lie/cheat/steal rules of movie heroics.
As for anything resembling fun, like Wrong Turn 2 or most of the other movies I mentioned? There is ONE sort of joke in the entire movie, and it made me retch:
Girl: “Why do I love you so much?”
Guy: “Probably because I put you in my top 8.”
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? The irony is, all of these vapid no-name actors look EXACTLY like the people who are pictured in fake spam profiles. “Hi, I’m new to Hollywood and my first “break” is starring in Lake Dead. I liked your profile pic and see that you like Shocker. Click my profile and watch my boring movie!”
Other than that, the only other thing that got me to chuckle was the final line, spoken by the “finally doing something to stop his daughters from being raped by their uncle” dad, who shoots his brother in the head and says “THAT’S how you fuck family!” Nothing like a good joke to lighten the mood, even at the expense of his children’s psychological terror (not to mention the years of therapy they will endure now that they realize that their father is also their brother, or whatever – again, who the fuck their mother is wasn’t a concern). Dickhead.
The original Wrong Turn worked because it was the first “no humor, no bullshit” survival horror movie in ages when it was released. The story broke no new ground, but it was a successful throwback to 70s horror in the dawning age of PG-13 horror, with good performances, effects, and even a decent level of suspense to boot. But now, Lake Dead does absolutely nothing to distinguish itself from the others of the past few years. In 2007, you gotta be fun or do something original. Doing neither is just pointless.
What say you?