DIRECTOR: Ben Milliken
WRITER: Stevie Jane Miller
Michael Shamus Wiles
Sarah and Ryan have been dating for a year. When Ryan joins Sarah and her parents on a weekend trip away to their cabin in the woods for Christmas. Little do the family realise that a young woman who was kidnapped and murdered in the same area will soon come colliding with the family who will need to fight for survival as a couple of killers hunt the family down in the isolated, snow-covered wilderness.
Looking at the poster for Lake Alice. I was excited to watch this movie. As a big fan of slasher films, I was excited to see what this film had to offer. The poster reminded me heavily of Urban Legend meets the Netflix home invasion movie, Mercy. I love myself a solid slasher film, and I had pretty high hopes that Lake Alice would deliver on both its premise and its poster. Sadly, like a lot of cases, this is a movie where the poster is much more impressive than the film itself.
The positive of Lake Alice is that this movie has enough character development that once the killers start to attack the isolated cabin, you find yourself at least caring for the four family members. You root for these people. Both the mother and father are the strongest characters in the movie. The young couple while likable, aren't as well rounded as the parents. I found that the younger couple are flawed and the subplot with the young female character having second thoughts about the engagement due to her ex-boyfriend made her my least favourite when she should have been the most likable being the final girl.
It should also be mentioned that this movie is filmed quite well. There is some great cinematography to be found in some of the more scenic shots. For a movie that is set mostly in the snowy wilderness of Wisconsin, I thought that they made this flick look quite interesting. This movie is very tone heavy. They manage to make the dark black wilderness and heavy white snow covered mountains look fantastic. I'll assume this is a very low budget movie, they at least got the most out of the location.
Now where Lake Alice goes wrong for me. The movie involves a subplot that features our leading female character and her ex-boyfriend. Her current fiancé is introduced to the ex, and you can sense a rivalry between the two men. Before we even met the ex though, the lead female's mother speaks to her ex's mother, and you can tell that this ex-boyfriend cares for her still. The picture is so easily painted for the audience that before the twist reveal even happens, it's no surprise at who the killers are here. No shock factor whatsoever.
The film does it's very best to try and give us several nasty and unlikable supporting characters. They do this to try and throw the audience off the scent of who the killers might turn out to be, but the two most unlikable characters who we believe could be the possible killers are killed off early on leaving the only other two people that we've been introduced to have to be the only killers. It also doesn't help that one killer is a lot shorter than the other which gives us a clear outline of who the two killers are as the two people are shown together in an earlier scene with the height difference.
When it comes to the gore, the movie could've given us a lot more bloodshed. A lot of the death scenes are shot in a way where we only get glimpses of the kill scenes. The camera lingers just above all of the carnage, so we see lots of murders take place but never actually see the act itself. The most impressive death scene felt like it was very inspired by The Hills Have Eyes. A police officer is tied to a tree and set alight. I think that maybe, the writer and director were inspired by Wes Craven's films.
Is Lake Alice scary? The movie at times builds some decent tension but isn't scary at all. You won't find any jump scares at Lake Alice. The first scene where the two killers attack the cabin is probably the best use of suspense. The rest of Lake Alice sees our characters running through the wilderness. You won't find any solid scares here. Once the killers and motive are revealed, the rest of the loses all tension. Once you realise that the killers are murdering people all because someone has a serious crush that they can't get over, it's all very dull.
Lastly, the acting is hit and miss for me. I thought the two best performances in the film come from Aussie Peter O'Brien who I'm well aware of from his time on a couple of pretty popular TV shows here down under. He plays the father, and I actually liked his character a lot. The other performance is our mother character who is played by Laura Niemi. At first, I thought she was actually Rita Wilson. Still, these two parents have more chemistry than the young, newly engaged couple who are the main and primary central focus which says a lot about how they are written.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is dragged off into the night. Found dead.
- A man is hit in the back with a tomahawk and repeatedly stabbed.
- A guy is stabbed in the back.
- A police officer is burnt alive.
- A woman is shot in the head.
- A man is shot in the neck.
- A man has his head crushed with a rock.
- A woman hits her head in a car accident.
- A man is shot in the throat.
Lake Alice has good cinematography, some solid performances from Peter O'Brien and Laura Niemi and a few moments of tension. What lets this snow-bound slasher down is that it's just filled with unlikable characters and a predictable killer reveal. The film also delivers one of the lamest motives that I've seen in a slasher in quite some time. I'm all for obsession based horror movies, but the amount of death in this film feels a little excessive for the motive. Still, if you enjoy a slasher, a few drinks while watching might make you enjoy this one.