Chattanooga Film Festival Movie Review: LAKE NOWHERE (2014)

Welcome Witches and Warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing a retro slasher short called Lake Nowhere.  Since it gives a good overview of what to expect (and in many ways sold me on the idea) let’s turn to IMDB for a quick plot rundown:

Inspired by the dusty days of VHS, LAKE NOWHERE is preceded by original trailers & commercials, replicating the experience of watching a long lost bootleg tape.  When a group of friends arrive at a desolate lakeside cabin, they are stalked and murdered by a Masked Maniac, whose lust for blood transcends our world. 

Reading that description made me both excited and nervous.  Excited because of all the possibilities it entails, but also nervous because they could just be promising more than they deliver.  When the word PLAY popped up in the top left corner of my screen and static lines began to appear it brought back memories of my analog days.  Luckily, they peppered the entire feature with crackling audio, color distortions, and a low definition look so it felt like a real tribute to the days of renting VHS movies from a video store.

This sense of authenticity is carried into the feature itself.  We are presented with all of the traditional slasher movie archetypes: the nerd, the slut, the obvious final girl, and the druggie are all staying at a cabin in the woods together.  Sex and drugs soon follow while a masked figure in the woods silently watches the teen debauchery.

Our killer is the typical silent stalker that picks off the teens one by one when they are isolated.  We see him hunting the teens from a first person perspective that proves to be slightly obscured thanks to his mask.  The kills themselves are rarely shown from his point of view and look like something straight out of an 80′s slasher flick where we are shown the victim screaming before cutting to an obviously fake body being gored or skewered.

The victims themselves all play up their roles perfectly without ever going into truly campy territory.  This lack of camp is what makes the actors truly special as there is an understanding that top notch acting would feel out of place, but at the same time it never descends into simple parody.  Keeping it out of spoof territory does help us to care a bit for the stereotypical characters and definitely heightens the tension during some scenes.

This feeling of strain is best felt during a scene splicing together the kids playing Egyptian Rat Screw while the killer lurks outside the cabin.  As the kids slam down cards the music keeps swelling creating a sense of dread as to what is to come.  The scene is probably the best example of how the score was used to ratchet up our expectation of the approaching threat.

Story/Concept: 1
Direction/Style: 2
Atmosphere: 2
Scares: 1
Rewatchability: 2
TOTAL: 8/10

All in all, this is a movie I will be sharing with as many friends as I possibly can and fans of slasher films or old VHS tapes will be hard pressed to find a more loving tribute to both staples of the eighties.

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