Tuesday, November 13, 2007

After Dark 2007: Lake Dead

Lake Dead

American Gothic minus Rod Steiger and Yvonne DeCarlo.

That's the short form, anyway. Last year, the first movie I saw at the horror fest was Dark Ride. That movie started as a smart take-off of the '80s “fun-house” sub-genre but by the end had simply become any number of '80s movies in complete earnest, as if no one had ever thought of making a movie where a psycho killer eliminated his teen targets one by one.

I mention this because it astounds me that anyone would do that.

This movie was similarly astounding: Somebody's grandfather dies and his granddaughters go to inherit his old place. No, not the “locked in haunted house” story but the “carry on the family tradition” story. I was sort of hoping for a monstery twist, something sort of “Shadow over Innsmouth” but no dice: It's just straight inbred hillbilly madness. Every time this movie seems like it might stray into unfamiliar territory, the music swells—absurdly at some points—and soon we're back on rails.

It did have the grossest scene we saw all weekend: James C Burns french-kissing “Grandma” Pat McNeely.

The other thing it had, which was sort of amusing, was really, really stupid psycho killers (looking sorta like runners-up in the “Nick Nolte Mugshot” contest). I mean, logically, being inbred and all, and living wildman lives up in the hills, you wouldn't expect the brightest nails in the crude-but-effective-mace. But as it leads kind of comically to their deaths, you have to wonder how they managed to be so fearsome in the first place.

This underscores a good trend at the festival, though: The superhuman baddie is clearly on the out. That's nice. It was a limited concept beaten into the ground after Halloween, the only place where it was truly startling.

Less explicable was this movie's choice to leave the final showdown between evil brother and good—well, crappy, abusive, alcoholic but still relatively good—brother offscreen. Really, we hear a shot, the victor emerges. The end.

A remarkably unoriginal film which had a whopping 7.5 rating on IMDB. It should be apparent to all by now that you can't trust an IMDB rating when it involves fewer than five hundred people.

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