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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sam's Lake

Okay, so this week's movie is one I haven't heard much about. Hopefully it's a slasher. It's called Sam's Lake, and the premise sound good...basically, a young woman named Samantha invites a group of friends to check out a lake house that she inherited. Will it sink or swim? Let's find out together, as I watch and deliver my usual SPOILER-filled play-by play!

The movie begins with a young man breaking out of a mental hospital. That's a promising start. He travels by foot, until he arrives at a house, where he proceeds to break in and slaughter the woman who lives there. We don't see the murder, though...we just hear her scream as an outside view of the house is shown. Great.

Then the movie brings us to a clothing boutique. A group of twentysomethings are having a conversation whose sole purpose is to tell the audience what's going on. The gist is that Sam, the cute redhead in the title, has just been given a lake house after her father died in a weird hunting accident. Her friends are Franklin, the movie's black guy(so, if this follows slasher rules, he won't last long); Dominik, an effeminate Latino; Sam's cute Asian friend, Kate; and Melanie, an attractive blond.

They stop at a local general store as they get close to the lake, where they get scrutinized by a squinty, weird guy behind the register. Out by the gas pump, Kate is freaked out by 2 old coots staring at her, then a mysterious guy who looks like he pump;s gas, but vanishes when she turns away for a moment. Wow. Scary. Yay.

So, they finally get on the road again, and Kate spots a creepy-looking house out in the middle of nowhere. A figure inside the house moves, and Kate seems to have noticed, because she cranes her neck to look at it, even after the car has passed it by. Then Sam calls everyone's attention to a sign on a tree: SAM'S LAKE. Hey, I think there's a movie with that title!! Anyway, Sam claims her dad named the lake after her.

As everyone takes in the amazing view, Sam picks a leaf out of the water that's pretty much been floating down the lake during the entire movie so far. She tells them that the Spirit of the Forest sent them the leaf as a sign that they're welcome visitors.

Later, Sam takes a hike in the woods by herself. She stops in a clearing that looks quite a bit like Stephen King's Pet Sematary, and sits in the middle of the formation of rocks. Kate finds her, and they talk about death, life after death, know, a light chat. Then they leave to find their friends out on the lake.

Franklin finds a huge spear, and Sam jokes that she'll use it to keep them all in line. Dominik asks Sam why there aren't any other vacationers on the lake, and she tells him that most of the neighbors are either elderly or short-timers, and are seldom seen. Then a boat is seen approaching the group, and Sam gets pretty excited.

The visitor is Jesse, a young local guy Sam grew up with. He's also the mysterious stranger Kate saw briefly at the gas pump in town. Jesse is introduced to Sam's friends, then makes some weird comment about Orion and starting a fire. I left my decoder ring at home, so it's all gibberish to me.

Not to Sam, though. She explains that Jesse was talking about a bonfire, some tradition he does every year. Then she holds up a frame, where she proudly displayed her leaf. Yippee. Unless the leaf undergoes a grotesque mutation and starts killing folks, I don't care.

After the sun sets, Dominik and Melanie are smoking and staring up at the star-filled sky. They hear something splash in the lake near them, and decide that it might be a good idea to rejoin the others around the campfire. That's where Franklin is preparing to tell the group of buddies a scary story. Unfortunately, the story is just a rehash of the movie When a Stranger Calls, and they all start laughing.

After some encouragement by Jesse, Sam tells her friends about a local legend. She warns them, though, that the story comes with an "adventure", if they hear the tale, they have to go on the adventure as well. After her friends all agree to her terms, Sam tells the story.

There was a local man, and his family owned most of the land in the area. When he met a girl and fell in love, the man built a small house in the woods, and it just so happened to be the same weird house that Kate spotted during the drive. Anyway, the couple soon had 2 children, a boy and a girl.

While the couple cherished their daughter, the son was another matter. Even at a very young age, the couple could see that he wasn't exactly sane. His father turned to their wealthy relatives for help, and the boy was sent away to an asylum in the South, far enough away to avoid a scandal.

Eventually, the family tried to act as if they'd never had a son. When the boy was in his mid-teens, he managed to break out of the hospital(which is what we were shown in the opening scene of the movie. The authorities tried to find him, but they failed. After several weeks, the family assumes that the teen died in the woods, while attempting to reach them.

Then, one night, he manages to get to the family home. As we saw at the beginning, he murdered his entire family and then vanished into the woods. Since that time, every year people go missing in the woods, and the killer supposedly leaves a doll made out of corn husks in their place. As Sam's friends recall seeing those dolls at most of the local houses they drove past, she tells them that locals display them to ward off the killer. Jesse also mentions that he and some friends once tried to look for the crazed killer in the woods.

Sam wraps up the legend by claiming that the ghosts of the murdered family still haunt their empty house. She claims that if you visit the house at night, you can hear a re-enactment of the enter bloodbath. Then Jesse scares the group by jumping into the lake with a loud splash. Sam soon follows. Her friends comment on the creepy story, then join her in the lake.

Afterwards, Jesse apologizes to Kate for frightening her at the gas station. He confesses that he was dumbstruck by how pretty she is, and they make googly eyes at each other. Sam watches them, then hears Franklin and Dominik say how much they enjoy being in such a beautiful place.

Later that night, something is seen moving around in the forest at a rapid pace. Sam goes out to the haunted house during the night, and walks through each room. As she stops in one of the upstairs bedrooms, the killer looms behind her and says, "Dark sleep." Sam wakes up with a start, revealing that it was just a dream.

She gets out of bed, and Dominik follows. He asks her if she's having "the dream" again, and she denies it, even though we know otherwise. She tells Dom that she misses her father, and he consoles her by telling her that her friends are her family now. Awwwwww, how sweet. Now, when does the killing start? Oh, and when they return to bed, a bearded figure can be seen lurking at the window, watching them sleep.

The next morning, we start the day at another house, where a dog is barking loud enough to wake up people in the next state. It turns out to be the home of the squinty, rat-faced guy from the convenience store. As he tries to calm his dog down, a figure runs past him, and he turns to see who it was. When nobody appears, he starts to head back into the house, but the hillbilly from the previous scene is already inside, blocking his front door. There's a loud scream, but all we see is a shot of some trees.

Meanwhile, back at Sam's lake, Sam wakes up early and decides to go for a run. When she pauses, a sound alerts her to an unseen presence, so Sam quickly darts off the path and into the woods. As she listens for any further signs of a stalker, Jesse pops up and tells Sam that she's losing her natural instincts. They chat, mostly about how city life differs from the country, then Jesse leads her back to the house.

On the porch, Jesse asks Sam to tell him about her friends. She compares the group to a family, in that all are alone in the world, except for having each other. After hearing about their various traumatic pasts, Jesse jokingly tells Sam that she fits right in with the group. They grin, then decide to wake the others.

Apparently nothing happened that day, because the movie brings us forward to that evening. Sam and Jesse are preparing the group to go visit the spoooooooky oooooooooooold house. When they ask her for specifics, Sam responds by leaving to prepare dinner. They should've called this movie Pointless Filler, because that's more or less what it's been so far.

After dinner, Jesse and Kate take a walk down to the dock to look at stars. Yeah, RIIIIIIIGHT. I hope one of those stars wears protection. Oops....they were serious. Jesse is just pointing out constellations to Kate. Wow. This thing can't even pull off a makeout scene right.

On the porch, Sam seems to be a bit jealous of Kate. When her other friends start to tease her a little, Sam decides that it's time to begin the "adventure" that she promised them. She yells at Jesse to get moving, and everyone piles into the car. Wow, something might actually happen!

When Sam stops the car at the run-down house, her friends act surprised that she brought them there. Uh, where did you morons think you were going, Disney World? Everyone gets out of the car except Melanie. I have to be honest here, I pretty much forgot that she was in the film--in every scene so far, she's been pretty much stuck in the background. Melanie's this movie's equivalent of Jonathan from the show Buffy....sure, he's in a lot of episodes, but he rarely had any relevance to the plotline. That's Melanie, in a nutshell.

So wait, was I still watching this thing? Damn! Okay, so everyone's bitching and moaning about how dark it is, the condition of the exterior of the house, blah blah blah. Well, except for Melanie. When the rest step across the threshold and enter the house, Franklin is the next one to chicken out, opting to remain downstairs as the others head upstairs to see where the murders occurred. Heck, even Dominik is chickenshit, staying at the front door.

Apparently deciding that her friends are big babies, Kate heads up the stairs to see where Jesse went. He creeps up behind her and gives her a fright, but she reassures her friends that nothing happened. Then Jesse tells her to check out one of the bedrooms, telling her how weird it is. Outside, Melanie's still pouting in the car, and something or someone approaches the vehicle in a very stealthy manner.

Just as the group is about to call it a (boring!) night, Jesse uncovers a hole above the fireplace, and they all hear an object fall into the hearth. After some squabbling, Franklin is the one to reach into the fireplace and poke around in the dark to find the object, and Jesse scares him in the least scary way possible. Come on guys....I've seen episodes of "Scooby-Doo" with more terror than this. Anyway, Franklin reaches in again, and finds a book.

A book?

Yup. A book. *sigh*

Before they can even open it, there's a floorboard that creaks upstairs. That's followed by a loud bang, then more creaking, and another bang. Then a scream. Freaked out, they all run for the front door. They scare Melanie by jogging to the car, and Sam floors it, sending the car sailing away from the house.

As everyone else starts shouting at each other, Sam and Jesse laugh their heads off in the front seat. Then Franklin reveals that he brought the book out of the house. Oh, and one of the corn husk dolls is found attached to the car when they get back to the lake house. No one will admit to putting IT there, and they all go back inside the house.

Melanie asks what scared them so badly, and no one really bothers to explain it to her. They ask Sam if she ever experienced anything like it, and she replies that she's heards and seen stuff, but never that intense. Then Dominik turns their attention back to the book.

It's a diary. To be more specific, it's the diary of the kid who killed his family. The first entry, from 1959, is a bunch of rambling about how he felt he had to kill his family, because they abandoned him. He writes that he lives in the woods, because the animals speak to him, and because he can still hear his family screaming in the house at night. The next entry is from December of that year, and details how he believes that the ghosts in the house welcome him now.

The next entry, dated 6 years later, explains how he decided to go to the neighboring town to try to start a new life. No one recognized him, and some even told his legend to him, unaware that he was the subject of the story. He claims that his dead parents are proud of him.

The next several entries detail how, over the next decade, he managed to get employed as a mechanic, bought a cottage on the lake, and fell in love with a wealthy girl. As Dominik is about to read the next entry, dated 1976, a loud thump makes everyone jump. Jesse and Sam take a look outside, then Sam suggests that it might be a good time to put the book down. Jesse disagrees, and encourages Dom to keep reading, while Jesse goes outside to look around the property.

Dom picks up where he left off, in July of 1976. The killer writes that he and the wife have had twins. She was forced to have them in the cottage, so she suffered from a setback, healthwise. The final entry is from 1995. The killer claims that his children are exactly like him. He writes that the kids bring friends up to the house in the woods, for the express purpose of hunting and killing humans. Oh, and the kids are named Sam and Jesse.

Oh. Shit.

As soon as Dominik reads that part, the lights go out. The rocking chair that Sam was in is now empty, but still rocking. As Sam's friends begin to panic, they hear her let out a loud shriek. They unlucky quartet of friends try to remain calm, but then Jesse and Sam emerge from the shadows, and they look pretty pissed.

As the other 3 run to the exit, Sam tackles Dom to the ground. Outside, Jesse watches the others run into the forest, then approaches the house to watch Sam kill Dominik. Dom begs her not to hurt him, but she leans in close and whispers that she wants him in the house forever, in "dark sleep". Then she stabs him many, many times.

Melanie, Franklin and Kate hear Dominik being killed, and freeze in their tracks. Then Kate takes off in one direction, while Franklin and Melanie go the opposite way. On the porch of the house, Sam finds Jesse still standing there, and he tells her that there's some other presence nearby, another predator. When he tells Sam that he believes it's their lovable ol' crazy dad, she slaps Jesse and tells him that she watched their father die. Then they agree to focus on killing her friends, close their eyes, and use their other keen senses to hone in on their preys' locations.

Melanie trips and falls, and Franklin tries to get her back up. Sam stops at the edge of the property, and tries to target them again, then starts jogging. Kate is running at a pretty good clip herself, but Jesse seems to be catching up pretty well. As she stops to catch her breath, Kate does something only a complete bonehead would do: she stands still, and screams "Franklin!" over and over again. Gee, why not just erect a neon billboard that says I'M HERE IF ANYONE WANTS TO KILL ME!

Franklin and Melanie find another house in the woods, but disagree as to whether or not they should try to seek help from the residents. Franklin looks for keys to the pickup in the driveway, but no such luck. Then he tries knocking a few times on the door, but no one in the house responds. He finds the front door unlocked, and both he and Melanie enter the dark, quiet house.

Still running, and now getting disoriented, Kate is hopelessly lost.

I guess the camera crew are rooting against Kate, because they head back to the creepy empty house again. Franklin and Melanie start to search for weapons, and Franklin finds a phone, but it's dead. Then Franklin finds a photo of Sam and Jesse with their father, and he tries to convince Melanie to leave as soon as possible. And that's when they begin hearing someone thumping around on the roof. Whoops!

They try to make a mad dash for the van in the driveway, but it won't start. It turns out that vehicles need actual working engines to run, and this one lacks that very thing. Gosh, I learn something new every day. They resume running in the woods, and are followed close behind by Jesse.

As Melanie starts to get winded for the thousandth time, Franklin tries valiantly to save her life. He tells her that he'll stay behind to fight the murderous siblings, if she promises to use the time to get somewhere safe. He braces himself to take down Sam, who is sprinting toward him like the frigging Road Runner, while Melanie pretty much just stands behind him and watches as Jesse tackles him from the side. Melanie finally gets going, after helpfully waiting for Sam to catch up. If there's a slasher flick with characters dumber than this group, I'd love to hear about it, folks.

Franklin gets his knife taken away by Jesse, who picks up a branch-spear. As Franklin manages to get back on his feet and resume his escape attempt, Jesse flings the spear. It lands right in the middle of Franklin's back, and he almost falls to the ground. As he struggles to reach around and try to remove the weapon, Franklin is jumped by Jesse, who forces the spear to emerge through his chest. Poor Franklin....but hey, there's a bright spot! I was wrong about him dying first! Both Jesse and Sam stare at each other, as they each stand over the bodies of the dumbasses they just killed. Wait, so even Melanie's death scene was a part of the background. Damn...I guess someone involved in the film's production must have REALLY hated Melanie!

As they stroll in the forest, not rushing to find and kill Kate, they argue over whether or not their father is actually still alive. Jesse thinks that he senses the old man's presence, but Sam scoffs at the idea. She reminds him that they agreed to kill their father because they felt he was too old and feeble to hunt anymore. To put the discussion to rest, Sam tells Jesse that she will take care of him, just like always.

She also offers to kill Kate, but Jesse tells her that he prefers to do it himself. He takes off into the forest before she can disagree, and Sam is left with the bodies of her dead friends. After a brief sequence showing Kate tripping and hurting her arm, the movie shows Sam waiting for Jesse in her home. She sees a dream catcher in the living room, and distinctly remembers chaining it to the shack where she and Jesse ditched their father's body. Sam leaves the house, and runs into the woods.

Jesse and Kate play an extended game of Hide and Seek, and it feels like it lasts for weeks, or even months. Kate finds her way to what I think is the "haunted" house. As Kate tries to blend into the shadows, Jesse yells that he won't hurt her. Then he takes off running again, and Kate cries, as she realizes how hopeless her situation seems to be.

No big surprise, Jesse pops up as Kate slowly creeps toward the wide-open front door. She hits him in the face, and he makes no move to retaliate. He grabs her, then tells her that he won't harm her, as long as she lets him speak first. At about the same time, Sam shows up outside the house.

Inside, Jesse tells Kate that he has feelings for her, and has known that since the day at the gas pump. He claims that he wants to live with her and provide her with everything she could ever need or want. Then Sam interrupts the lovesick kook, and calls him pathetic. Then they look up.

The ceiling is covered in corn husk dolls. Sam tosses the dreamcatcher that she found over to Jesse, and tells him that their father is, indeed, still among the living. She tells Jesse to finish off Kate, so they can hunt down and kill their father without any distractions. Jesse agrees, and tells Kate that they can be together in death, then Daddy reaches out from a dark corner and grabs Jesse.

When they vanish into the dark, Sam gets nervous. She and Kate hear a struggle in the next room, then Jesse is flung out of the room at the 2 frightened women. Jesse stands up and tries to go back into the room to colntinue the fight, but Sam convinces him to join her outside, believing that the forest gives them a strategic advantage. Before leaving the house, Jesse promises to return for Kate. Yeah, she looks thrilled. She briefly locks eyes with the crazy father, who makes no move to harm her, he just stares. Then he exits the house to confront his children.

Outside, Jesse listens as Sam tries to come up with a strategy to ambush their dad. When he exits the house though, Jesse charges at him through a field of tall grass. Kate, meanwhile, slinks out of the house and tries to creep away. The second she gets away from the yard, Kate breaks into a run.

In the woods, Sam stops running and listens for any sign of her father. She sees another husk doll, then spots the silhouette of her hulking dad in the distance. She decides to run the other way, and her father chases her. Then it's suddenly full daylight, and Sam is in the mikddle of another field of tall grass, and perhaps some cornstalks. Her father slowly makes his way to her, then Jesse tackles the old man, and they both disappear from view.

Someone screams, and then Jesse stands up. As he staggers toward Sam, Jesse shows her a big wound he received in the gut. He keels over, Sam sees her father spring up lightning-fast. She sprints in his direction, and launches herself at the old man, and they both roll around on the forest ground. Both manage to arm themselves with sharp weapons, and they brawl until they both end up on the ground again.

They stab each other at the same time, but Sam tells her father that he taught her well, and she delivers a death-blow. After he appears to die, Sam gives in to her wound, and lies down next to him.

Kate, in the meantime, has found the storekeeper's home. She finds his body and retches into his kitchen sink, then comes face-to-face with Sam, who is standing right outside the kitchen window. Sam dangles the keys to the dead man's vehicle, and Kate swiftly moves to close and lock the front door.

Kate escapes to the back porch, and almost collides with Sam. They both run to the dock, where Kate grabs an oar, and slams it against Sam's head. sam's body slowl.y submerges, and Kate sees her car keys float to the surface. She takes so long grabbing them, I briefly considered that perhaps Sam would emerge from the lake, Jason-style. But no, Kate gets the keys, gets to Sam's vehicle, and gets it started. As she drives away from Sam's Lake, Kate sees another dreamcatcher on the rearview mirror, tears it off, and throws it out of the car.

There are different shots of the lake and the surrounding forest, then a rather ominous shot of the area where Sam was last seen sinking. There's a closeup of Kate, and I fully expected Sam or somebody to leap at her from somewhere, but it doesn't happen. The movie shows the car driving past the cabin, and then it just fades to black. THE END

Wow. That was really boring. I mean, for a movie that had, what, 10 murders in it, it was incredibly dull. Crazy. I give it 1-and-a-half killer trees out of five, mostly because of the attractive cast. But that still feels pretty generous. Okay, okay, so what did I learn after watching Sam's Lake?


Yeah, I got nothing this week. Thankfully, my next movie is Urban Legends: Final Cut, so I'm pretty sure it'll be more fun to sit through than this one was. See ya!