There’s Something In The Lake Image

Something clever this way comes in writer/director Greg Pope’s high concept monster movie There’s Something In The Lake. Heather (Annabelle Gaut), a tall middle school girl, lures Evan (Asher Trosdal), a smaller boy, to the lake for a surprise. There, he notices a chair sticking up out of the water. Heather tells Evan to sit in it and close his eyes. He does and awaits his surprise. Heather giggles. Then a giant dark form rises up, looming over Evan, who screams…

Meanwhile, Sam (Esther Jane Pope) comes home from visiting her mother’s grave to her dad (Shane Helm), grounding her for failing a math test. Her bestie, Tiffany (Campbell Butler), calls to let her know that boys are coming over. It Turns out the Late Late Late Show at 2 AM is going to show a notorious monster movie called There’s Something In The Lake. It is supposedly so scary it put one kid, Evan somebody, in a coma. The boys want to see it, and Tiffany wants to be around the boys.

When Sam points out she’s grounded, Tiffany, Vance (Riley Costello), and Link (Ty Trosdal), to her house. Tiffany’s mom calls her home before the movie starts, and she leaves with Vance. Sam and Link snuggle up in front of the TV and pass out. Sam wakes up the next day with everyone missing, except for Heather appearing and disappearing in the park. She then walks past a lake with a chair sticking up out of the water. It isn’t long before Sam realizes she and Link are trapped in the movie.

“…Sam realizes she and Link are trapped in the movie.”

Pope pulls off a rare feat with There’s Something In The Lake: being extremely clever without being overly complicated. At no time is the story hard to follow, even when it goes all dark side of Pleasantville. The self-referential elements are well executed without watering down the stakes. The screenplay keeps the intrigue going, and you never see what is coming round the corner.

There is also the expert move never to have the source of dread over-defined to lose its sinister edge. The chair sticking up out of the water is creepy as Hell. The monster in the lake (Micah Pope) is terrifying and well filmed. The way the rules unfold in the movie world makes sense without being overly simple. There are even a few spots where the world-building takes an unexpected turn, with a small comment that implies something much more vast at work.

What makes There’s Something In The Lake a real treat is that it is totally appropriate for kids. That is because this is a monster movie, not a horror picture per se. When I was a kid, I loved monster movies, but horror titles scared me. The concept of monster versus horror can be explained using the Joe Dante Scale. At one end, we have The Howling, a horror movie with adult themes and an intensity not meant for children. At the other end, we have Gremlins, a monster movie that engages kids directly. That end of the scale is where There’s Something In The Lake waits to jump out at children.

There’s Something In The Lake will expand a kid’s horizons about how smart a monster movie can be, instead of junk food horror that’s dumber than a brick. It also has a treasure trove of Generation X artifacts to explain to your children. They will marvel at the landline phones and squint over the concept of staying up late to watch something on TV instead of streaming it. But most of all, they will be engaged in an experience that doesn’t pander or insult their intelligence. One doesn’t need kids to enjoy There’s Something In The Lake. I have none and totally dug it. This is what I would show to my kids, if I had any, to Cronenberg them up.

There's Something In The Lake (2022)

Directed and Written: Greg Pope

Starring: Esther Jane Pope, Asher Trosdal, Ty Trosdal, Annabelle Gaut, Shane Helm, Campbell Butler, Riley Costello, Micah Pope, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

There's Something In The Lake Image

"…extremely clever without being overly complicated."

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