After the horrific trailers for long lost horror movies "Harvest Man", "Wolf White" and "When the River Runs Red", we're presented with the shocking feature, "Lake Nowhere". A group of teenagers head out to a cabin to have a party, but something evil has come up from the nearby lake to kill the teenagers and sacrifice them to the lake.
It's been a long ride waiting for "Lake Nowhere" since I first saw some random post about it on a forum a few years back. Now that Brink Vision has picked up the short feature for release, it's finally in our hands for reviewing. Many movies have tried to capture the style and feel of '80s horror movies, but unfortunately the majority of attempts are half-assed. They either go over-the-top, or simply slap on a Windows Maker-looking filter with scratches. "Lake Nowhere" showed promise from the very first teasers to not only look like it was made back then, but also have its priorities straight: to make a fun slasher movie.
The idea of fake trailers before a throwback movie like this (more famously done in "Grindhouse") is perhaps a little tiring right about now. "Lake Nowhere" begins with a few fun, silly trailers for fake movies called "Harvest Man", "Wolf White" and "When the River Runs Red". These definitely set up the style right away, but I think it would have worked without them too. Due to "Lake Nowhere" being short, these trailers felt more like a way to push the runtime a bit. They certainly don't make the presentation any worse, so don't take this as a huge negative or anything, but "Lake Nowhere" would not have been any less without them either.
When the "feature presentation" finally starts, we're treated to a very classic story for slashers (or horror in general). Teenagers arrive at a cabin. It doesn't take too long before we're introduced to the man of the hour - the Masked Maniac. A serial killer masked with something that looks as if it was made from tree bark. One of the teens goes missing after taking a swim in the lake. When he comes back, cold and blue, he's not quite what he used to be. He viciously attacks one of the friends, and is soon joined by the Masked Maniac to take down the rest of them.
"Lake Nowhere" is definitely respectable to the genre by being a fun movie, while it remains gruesome. It also feels like there is more thought put into the story than it reveals, which is good. It doesn't feel as shallow as "killer kills teens". However, it also makes me wish that the feature was more than 40-ish minutes long (51 minutes with the fake trailers), because there is more to explore.
Early on I felt a bit distracted by the use of VHS deterioration because it didn't feel consistent. Let me try to explain that a bit. During the fake trailers, which are presented in 4:3 aspect ratio, we still have a full 16:9 screen with VHS flickering. It makes sense because the actual movie ("Lake Nowhere") is in 16:9, but at the time you watch the trailers it looks weird when the trailer is 4:3 but the black bars on the side have VHS deterioration too. Either they should have kept everything 4:3 (and no deterioration on the sides), or everything 16:9. I'm very picky with my "throwback" filtering! Also, the actual feature has some weird use of the VHS look. During the opening credits it's all VHS flickering and whatnot, but once the movie starts it looks more like film scratches (and no VHS look at all). They then continue to throw in the VHS effect at random times that makes the whole idea feel disjointed. It really needs to be consistent to be convincing. Even though we know that "Lake Nowhere" isn't actually an old, lost movie or anything, they should have stayed more consistent to sell the atmosphere to me. Okay, fuck it, enough of nitpicking the look of the movie. I probably wouldn't have been this negative if it wasn't for the fact that they did all of the effects (VHS, film etc.) look very good. I just don't want it to jump between them in a distracting way. Hopefully I got my point across.
Now, to the important bits: the violence. Yes, it's a slasher throwback, so the violence is very important. "Lake Nowhere" is delightfully nostalgic with its violence. The blood is vivid, the kills are fun and unique, the effects range from good to bad - and it doesn't care. I adore the love that the filmmakers have put into the movie. They wanted to make something like they used to make them, not just make something inspired by that era.
The characters are perhaps not as defined due to the short length, but they're reasonably cheesy and fit the style. It's not exactly a movie where the dialogue shines, so it serves its purpose: we want to see teenagers killed. The best characters are used well: the guy who takes a naked swim returns as a naked savage attacking the rest of the friends, the girl who has to cover her face with bandage becomes an important part of the movie, and the Masked Maniac shows that he's not just a mindless killer. A few characters don't matter much, but it's good to see that they managed to make a couple of interesting roles in a slasher movie.
"Lake Nowhere" suffers mostly from being short. If it has been at least 70 minutes on its own, and skipped the fake trailers and all that (but still keep its film look), it would have worked wonders. Because the movie has fake trailers, and some random things pop onto the screen that "used to be on the tape that this was recorded to", the movie still somehow feels like a fake trailer despite being a short film/feature. There is just a little bit too much focus on making this a homage with its look, and not enough making this its own film. I actually enjoyed the movie greatly and think it is a great slasher on its own, so my main criticism is really that I liked the movie so much that I'm sad it doesn't feel like much more than a fake film. How can a film be a fake film? I don't know, that's the weird part.. That said, any lover of cult horror or slasher films should see "Lake Nowhere".