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SAM’S LAKE (2005)
Published by Miranda on 2009/5/28 (1203 reads)
SAM’S LAKE (2005)
Directed by ANDREW C. ERIN
Review by MARTIN BOUCHER
Released by Lionsgate
Running Time: 87 minutes
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: English Dolby Digital Stereo 5.1 / English and Spanish Subtitles
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 1.78:1
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Stills Gallery; Trailers
Trailer Online: Yes
Going back to a rural friend’s home sure does come with a deadly agenda for five 20-somethings in the uneven low-budgeter SAM’S LAKE, written and directed by newcomer Andrew C. Erin, based on his 2002 short film of the same name. Starring RANCID Fay Masterson as the hostess and TV’s “Dante’s Cove” alum William Gregory Lee as the local tease, SAM’S LAKE isn’t as much a slasher flick as it is an action piece with a supernatural overtone. It follows relatively the same path taken by Ice-T in the 1994 movie SURVIVING THE GAME and delivers a somewhat interesting idea that focuses on the evil that men—and sometimes women—do.
The premise which deals mostly with trust and friendship develops real slow, concentrating solely on character development. Issues such as reconstructed family and love gone wrong dominate the first half of the story, which in itself would be just fine had the segment been livened up by sparkling writing and non-wooden performances. As is, this whole intro thing is uninspiring and quickly becomes dull despite some eye-catching scenery and decent production values. But thank heavens for the film second half that totally saves the day. Yes, just like the sudden arrival of a superhero—or better yet, a knife-wielding evil foe with a penchant for lost souls—the wind changes course and the plot picks up speed. A campfire tale, a visit to an abandoned house, eerie voices into the night finally boost up what seemed so much like a lost cause. From then on, it’s fun fun fun ‘til one survivor takes the baddy away. Or does he—she—it?
It takes indeed a while but Andrew C. Erin manages at last to throw a curveball with this well-executed, fast-moving plot twist—which, incidentally, is almost dialogue free. Filled now with wrong turns, bad decisions, face to face combats, the whole thing is even set in a dark wooded area rivaling any early FRIDAY THE 13TH-like films. But unlike those Jason Voorhees type vehicles where dumb and dumber reign until promptly demised, this one keeps some of its people around long enough to play a violent game of hide and seek but also (insert a deep sigh of regret here) to suffer more pre-climactic verbal nonsense and some unlikely situations in between kills. In the end what stays mostly fresh in memory is the cleverness of the action sequences and little else.
Fay Masterson may have missed the mark taking on the role as the leader of the pack Sam, but underneath the lackluster performance still lies a talented actress. This film just wasn’t it for her—as it clearly wasn’t for the rest of the cast either (especially onscreen pals Sandrine Holt and Salvatore Antonio who are stiff as the log cabin they inhabit). But you got to give SAM’S LAKE props for trying to be different, especially in an era so full of cut and paste DVD releases. At least, this one tries to be a step above the rest. And that, plus the impressive second half—not to mention the added still galleries and trailers which are omitted on this screener copy—is worth at least a look.
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