- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Massacre Lake

Also known as:

Year: 2014

Genre: Short / Horror

Language: English

Runtime: 20 min

Director: Micah Gallo

Writer: Micah Gallo


Many years after the massacre of Native Americans by a lake, a family is visiting the same location on their vacation. What started as two parents' attempt to restore their relationship, ends in the hauntings of the past.

Our thoughts:
As the Viewster Online Film Festival is going on between 11th - 25th September, we're trying to get a few films watched and reviewed from there. It took me a few days to sit down and watch one, and the one I had been curious about the most was this short film called "Massacre Lake" (a somewhat lacking title, sure, but it had something that appealed). Not knowing anything about a filmmaker and being able to decide for yourself exactly what to watch and review is part of the fun of a festival - especially an online film festival like this one. It's a great chance to find some new talent that you haven't had the pleasure to look into previously. "Massacre Lake", a TV pilot originally, proved itself to be a highly atmospheric little short well worthy of a review.

A couple decide to take a vacation to a cabin out by a lake, in attempt to heal their relationship issues. With them is also their young daughter. What they don't know is that on this very location, many years ago, there was a massacre of the Native Americans and their ghosts now haunt the place.

There are flaws in the short, there's some questionable acting (especially from Andy Dick, which can be expected - though I should also say that he was unusually good for being him), a few mistakes in the opening with the slaughter scenes (smaller things like an Native American mother not being played by a Native American), and so on. Even the plot might not be that amazing. But, "Massacre Lake" shows early on that its inspirations are from the more creative, artistic side of horror - people like Mario Bava and you might not be surprised that it's also heavily inspired by "Twilight Zone".

This movie is full of atmosphere, fantastic cinematography and a few visually pleasing effect shots (brief as they might be). The thickness of the fog is simply eye-candy, as it often is in movies. I feel "Massacre Lake" brings it out better than most and to me that's a huge plus. Yes, I'm a sucker for mood. The cinematography also enhances all that significantly, as they've clearly put a lot of thought into every shot.

One of the things that had be curious on the Viewster Online Film Festival page was the screenshot used on the browsing page. It was an image of a young girl with a gunshot wound in one of her eyes. It was mildly gory, but what drew me in was how simple that shot attracted me, showing much of what the movie had to offer in just one screenshot. When watching the movie, I also noticed some very carefully handed CGI in that shot, which is much appreciated. If a movie is gonna have CGI, they better use it well and "Massacre Lake" did that. Not surprising that the director works as a visual effects artist.

Overall this is a short film I suggest you all check out. You can still watch it over at the Viewster Online Film Festival till the 25th September 2014 - after that you're on your own. Micah Gallo and his team have succeeded with everything they set out to do in this short, and most of all they succeeded in making a really atmospheric dream.

Positive things:
- Great cinematography and scenery.
- Mostly great effects.
- The black and white really fits, it didn't just feel thrown on.

Negative things:
- Andy Dick being Andy Dick. They might've wanted that kind of a character, but it seemed a bit misplaced.
- A few smaller flaws and holes, nothing major.

Gore: 2/5
Nudity: 1/5
Story: 2.5/5
Effects: 3.5/5
Comedy: 1/5

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