Any film buff will be quick to tell you that while the story is the heart of the movie, the atmosphere is just as important. The tone can either place you right next to the characters, or make you keep checking the runtime every five minutes. While THE WINTER LAKE has its broody Irish setting down, it uses its foggy mysteriousness as a filler for any actual plot.
Mother Elaine (Charlie Murphy) and son Tom (Anson Boon) are new in town with their share of baggage, and THE WINTER LAKE is fast-and-loose with tropes we’ve all seen before. Tom is a loner with an alluded-to violent event in his past, and Elaine does not hesitate to remind him that he is the reason their lives are upended. If you think their relationship is bad, wait until you meet the neighbors – father Ward (Michael McElhatton) and daughter Holly (Emma Mackey) – who will go even further to protect their vague and dangerous secrets.
At about an hour and a half, THE WINTER LAKE feels like it runs for much longer than it actually does. Every scene flows like molasses and plot points, like the troubles Elaine and Tom face when attempting to integrate, are abandoned in favor of the central mystery. This wouldn’t be an issue if said mystery was actually fulfilling – instead, it’s dramatic for the sake of being dramatic with no actual substance behind it. When the screen turns to black, I don’t care about any of the central four’s secrets, and I don’t care about who makes it to the end.
THE WINTER LAKE takes the necessary steps to show us what a sad predicament our characters are in but forgets that you need to have some investment to make the ride worthwhile.
THE WINTER LAKE is now available in select theaters and on Video on Demand, and will be available on DVD on March 23 from Epic Pictures.