Lake Artifact Image

Lake Artifact

By Andrew Stover | July 28, 2020

During the interview segments, the camera is close up and personal, as any interview should be. The camera is formally static, and the anonymous interviewer asks questions, though the film substitutes subtitles in the place of audio, purely to mask the interviewer’s identity. Back at the cabin, a trembling hand-held camera documents the teenagers’ surreal experiences. While both contrasting styles were artistically sensible, Wemple’s cinematography needed more consistency and appeal.

As for the tight-knit batch of friends, Megan is eminently peppy, Grace is somewhat reserved, Kip is overconfident, and Tommy is the cautious one who exists for comic relief. Four well-rounded actors embody the characters. Chris Cimperman and Catharine Daddario do exceedingly well with subverting expectations of how their characters will react. The script doesn’t give Thomas Brazzle a lot to work with, but he still captures the character’s lighthearted attributes quite effectively. When Chris Cimperman is steered to become progressively more lifeless and eldritch, he’s up to the task, and he becomes uneasily composed and suspect.

We learn early on that Kip and Megan are in a relationship, but a forbidden kiss between Kip and Grace is heavily alluded to but then forgotten. As for drifter Thomas, he’s alluringly enigmatic, and that’s because when we first meet him, he’s hauling around a case of beer in the middle of nowhere. Dylan Grunn’s muted performance as Thomas is deeply engrossing. Grunn attracts with a mysterious demeanor and a brawny frame, both of which can understandably evade suspicion and present a falsehood of safety and pluck. The character’s intent induces more intrigue (just don’t put all your energy into this mystery).

“…an enterprising and irresistibly peculiar endeavor, generating terror out of photographs…”

For the most part, Lake Artifact is a curious horror/ sci-fi/ comedy concoction that juggles the pliability of time and the internal consequences of selfishness, and how both can consume any source of virtue left in our system. That being said, the pace can be frustratingly inert, and numerous storylines remain severed, such as the interviewer’s identity, the foundation of time at Paradox Lake, and the melodrama in between the bouts of confusion.

Through ambiguity, Wemple aimed to avoid clear-cut answers and stimulate deeper reflection on self-interest and fate, but that’s easier said than done. Lake Artifact is an enterprising and irresistibly peculiar endeavor, generating terror out of photographs, entrapment, and a sempiternal prophecy. There are no supernatural monsters or bloodthirsty killers out for prey; there are only the complicated beats that are humans and the unsparing presence of time

There are scattered moments of humor and horror throughout the movie, a weird mixture that casts a transfixing spell. Even so, Wemple doesn’t end up creating a finished product that’s entirely spellbinding, as there are too many missed opportunities. Howbeit, while not exactly cherishable or durable, Lake Artifact has enough value to justify its existence.

Lake Artifact (2019)

Directed and Written: Bruce Wemple

Starring: Thomas Brazzle, Anna Shields, Catharine Daddario, Chris Cimperman, Dylan Grunn, Rick Montgomery Jr., Sheila Ball, Ben Hauck, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Lake Artifact Image

"…there are scattered moments of humor and horror.."

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