Four young adults, and their two even younger charges, head off to a country lake house that one of their parents own, with the intent of having a long weekend doing some drinking, some partying and a lot of water skiing. But they aren’t there long before their fun is interrupted by an angry killer wielding a knife. Two dead neighbors later and the kids have been asked by the police to stick around for another day in case the authorities need to ask them any questions. That’s more than enough time for the killer to get his stab game on.
As a fan of low-budget horror films I am not at all unfamiliar with the “Shot on Video,” or SOV, sub-genre of cheap slasher. Having spoken to others I’ve realized that I have a higher tolerance than most to what other people may refer to as “crap.” I like to think it stems from me trying to find the silver lining in things, and over the years I’ve even grown to like and have an appreciation for the drive and chutzpah needed to undertake such outings. But even I have a limit to what I find entertaining, and after having watched this movie I believe that limit is firmly planted at the feet of one Blood Lake.
The plot for the film follows the familiar 80s backwoods slasher protocols. You have a group of kids at a rather rural location, and they’re being stalked by a creep wielding a pointy object. Pretty standard stuff. But while most other slashers would try to find some way to distinguish themselves from the crowded pack, Blood Lake does absolutely nothing to try to make itself stand out. The characters are all cookie-cutter and lame, the location is dull, and there isn’t even an interesting backstory regarding the house or the killer to keep you interested. Hell, Berserk basically had the same damn plot, but at least it had a crazy backstory about killer Vikings that helped keep you invested til the end, hoping for some kind of crazy or interesting outcome. Sure, you still ended up horribly disappointed by the end of that film, but at least they tried. Blood Lake can’t even make the claim to have done that much. The most this film did to distinguish it was give the killer a pair of cowboy boots. That’s it. That’s the extent of their effort. This is the kind of film that stubbornly stops at nothing and stays there, despite being given multiple opportunities to do otherwise.
And even then, I could have forgiven the movie’s lack of uniqueness and familiar plot if it had at least had some fun moments, but the word “fun” doesn’t seem to be included in this film’s lexicon. Or if it did, someone sneezed on the page and cut it out of the book. For starters, the pacing of this thing is abysmally atrocious. The first six minutes of the film are literally an extended driving and parking sequence, and the film only gets exponentially worse from there. Mind-numbing padding, thy name is Blood Lake. It starts with the driving sequence, but then it moves on to inane talking sequences filled with insufferable dialogue, eating sequences, and a whole chunk of film dedicated to every character getting a chance to do some water-surfing while the viewer is forced to listen to horrible rock music. I swear, it’s like almost everything in this film is done in real-time. There’s even a 9-minute long sequence where the characters sit around in a circle and do nothing but play a drinking game. Or at least I think that’s what they’re doing. They spend the whole time murmuring, so you can’t really make out what’s going on. Though, judging by the rest of the film, I doubt anything they had to say would have been all that interesting or relevant to begin with. Still, with all the padding we’re forced to sit through I’m surprised the movie didn’t make us watch each character individually get ready to go to bed. I was already dangerously close to falling asleep as it was. Doing that might have actually pushed me over the edge, and I don’t think I’ve actually fallen asleep watching a movie since that time I was sick about six years ago.
Sadly, the horrible pacing and re-tread story aren’t even the worst of it. I haven’t yet really even touched on the horribly stupid characters or horrendous dialogue yet, because both of those elements just help to put the crap cherry on the rotten cherry pie. I realize the whole film is the definition of amateurish, but even when I was forced against my will to make a film in High School with my classmates, at least I had a script to work with, which is more than can be said for this movie. Or at least I sincerely hope they didn’t have a script, because the lines uttered (or in some cases inaudibly mumbled) in this movie are so bad that knowing they had a script to work with might actually make it worse.
And though I realize that the actors contained within this film were little more than a group of friends running around a lake for a few days, I still expect actors to at least, you know, attempt to emote when something significant happens. Admittedly, the girls fared a little bit better, but the guys? Oi. Getting them to try to act looks to have been about as effective as herding cats. When the first character gets stabbed to death and left on a dock, the two guys who find his body show about as much emotion to his grisly death as one would express upon realizing that the rake that they’d left leaning against a tree had fallen to the ground. I mean, there is just NOTHING on their faces beyond a look of blank indifference. At least the ladies were able to fake a scream effectively. The guys take in two dead bodies and act like, “Well…. You’re gonna get that.” They would have expressed more emotion with a half-shrug.
But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by all the indifference, since none of the characters seem to have been blessed with much of a brain to begin with. People don’t notice things happening literal feet from their face, they treat the 14-year-old boy who’s sexually harassing everyone in sight, (and I do mean everyone,) as if he’s just a precocious little scamp, every time someone hears a strange noise at night someone’s running out of the house in their underwear trying to investigate, and after the neighbors are killed, not only does everyone still stay at the lake house where the two murders occurred, but the two dope-heads of the group insist on going for a -quote-unquote- walk around the property in the middle of the night. And of course by “walk” I mean they plan to get their “nookie” on in their friend’s dad’s boat. So to recap, these two geniuses steal their friend’s boat, which they can barely drive, in the middle of the night, just so they can have sex in an area where two people they were drinking with just hours before were brutally killed by an assailant that has yet to be found. I’ve heard of people being born under a bad star, but I’ve never heard of anyone being born under an imbecile star.
For those of you who may still be holding out hope that at least the film’s gore and/or nudity could possibly tide them over, I am sorry to say that I am here to burst that bubble. After the first kill, which is your standard stabbing, you not only have nothing to look forward to for another 50-minutes, but even after you get to that point you don’t have anything to look forward to once you get there. The film has maybe one decent kill involving a sliced neck, but that’s it and you have to wait until late in the game to get to that point. Your hopes for nudity are even more non-existent. There is one sex scene, the aforementioned sexy-times on a boat, but good freaking luck being able to see anything. For starters, everything is obscured by the boat, and secondly, the quality of the movie’s night filming was so piss-poor that even if things weren’t obscured, you wouldn’t be able to tell what was going on anyway. It just looks like two blobs wriggling in the night. Not that the quality of the film is really much better in the daytime. Beyond a couple of decent establishing shots, the cinematography here rates about a point or so above “shaky cam” levels of skill.
I’m pretty lenient when it comes to low-budget horror films, but even I had trouble finding anything redeeming with Blood Lake. The film meanders for scene after scene with nothing of significance happening, all of the characters are annoying, the story is paper thin, the dialogue is cringe-inducing, and the quality of the film itself, both in the visual and sound department, is pretty bottom of the barrel. I might be able to forgive some of the film’s flaws if it had at least had one interesting aspect, but instead the film just drags along as if it’s filling in a paint by numbers card, and even then it’s doing a poor job of staying in the lines. I don’t think I’ve ever been this bored watching a slasher before. There weren’t even enough bad parts in it to make it worth mocking, because it’s not that the film is bad, it’s just that it’s mind-numbingly dull. And when it comes to cheap horror films, being that dull is the greatest sin of all.
Blood Lake is available on a variety of streaming services.
Blood Lake is also available on DVD.