Movie Review: The Lake on Clinton Road (2015)
“A trip they will never forget… Or survive.”
The Lake on Clinton Road (2015)
Director: DeShon Hardy
Cast: India Autry, Aram Bauman, Alan Bendich
Synopsis: Six young people fall afoul of a malevolent spirit while holidaying at a secluded lakeside cabin.
You want to make a movie, but have no money? Make a horror. You don’t need star names, you don’t need explosive special effects and you don’t need expensive state-of-the-art equipment, just a digital camera, a mic, a few mates and some basic make-up. Oh, yeah, you also need a half-decent script and a basic understanding of how to make a movie – although, tone honest, a lot of first-time filmmakers refuse to allow a deficiency in these two areas to deter them from following their dream.
According to a behind-the-scenes blog written by a member of the crew, the key number of people involved in the shooting of The Lake of Clinton Road totalled just nine: 3 crew members and 6 cast (IMDb credits gives a total of 19 names). To put this in perspective, the total cast and crew involved in the making of the top box office attraction at the time of writing (The Legend of Tarzan) numbered 1661 people. In fact the number of drivers working on The Legend of Tarzan outnumbered The Lake on Clinton Road’s key personnel. Hardy’s team slept in the lodge which provides the main location for the movie, and partied hard enough at the end of each day to ensure that the start time for the following day grew progressively later. It sounds like it was hard work, but fun for them. For the rest of us, it’s just hard work.
Hardy shows some glimmers of promise as a director – he knows how to frame a shot and which angles to select, and is willing to experiment with camera movement (although not always at the appropriate moment), but he would be wise to leave writing duties to someone with a grasp on such fundamentals as plot, pace and characterisation, all of which are notably absent from The Lake on Clinton Road.
What plot there is revolves around six 20-something ‘teenagers’ who, while celebrating the birthday of one of their number at a remote lakeside cabin near to the eponymous road, find that their late-night carousing invokes the wrath of the malevolent spirit of a young boy who was drowned in the lake years before. They’re familiar types: crudely drawn stereotypes with few redeeming features who bare their flesh at every opportunity and are so dull that we quickly grow impatient for the slaughter to begin. Unfortunately, Hardy’s budget doesn’t stretch to action scenes, so we’re a good half-hour into the meagre 80 minute running time (approximately one-tenth of which is comprised of a completely unrelated post-credits sequence featuring possibly the most irritating teen girls in the history of cinema) before anything remotely spooky takes place. Until then, we’re subjected to endless scenes of the kids partying, arguing or ogling one another, interrupted by an occasional moment in which a character, startled by shadowy movement out of the corner of their eye, peers anxiously around a corner or through a doorway as ominous music mounts, only for them to find there’s nothing there.
Once people do finally start falling victim to the vengeful spirit, it quickly becomes apparent that Hardy’s budget also doesn’t stretch to anything but the most meagre of effects (The Lake on Clinton Road is both literally and metaphorically bloodless), so, for the most part, people just disappear, either swallowed up by darkness or catapulted into the lake. After checking off every horror movie cliché from its list, the film falls apart in its final reel, with a rather lame attempt to link the lodge’s tragic past to one of the characters which might have had more impact had Hardy thought to offer more hints regarding the direction in which it was headed throughout the rest of the film.
Anyone with the will and determination to make a movie without any financial backing is worthy of no small measure of respect and some degree of praise simply for getting their movie made. It’s just a shame that, in Hardy’s case, his resilience and fortitude has resulted in such a poor movie. Still, at least it isn’t another found footage…
(Reviewed 13th July 2016)