Drawing explicitly on the classics of the video era such as Friday the 13th, Rabid, and The Evil Dead, Lake Nowhere is an exuberant blast from the past that immerses itself in horror history to distil a wonderfully attuned work of genre adoration, making the film feel as if it had burst straight from the peak of the 1980s slasher boom years.

A group of friends journey to an isolated lakeside cabin (you totally know where this one is going don’t you?) only to find themselves confronted with pure terror in the shape of a masked maniac, whose lust for death is insatiable. Voila…the perfect cliché riddled, formulaic slasher set up in all its wonder, a perfect playground for the modern self-aware slasher homage. However, what truly distinguishes Lake Nowhere as one of the most successful works of retro homage is the combination of playfulness and strict dedication to the shape of the film. Playing out at a brisk fifty minutes, Lake Nowhere moves swiftly and purposefully with the directness of a true slasher of old; it’s not reinventing the wheel, but rather condensing the formulaic markers (cabin setting, youthful indiscretion, synth tones and good old killer POV) to create a remarkably focused experience, that is iconic in its own right. In finding this shape, it allows the filmmakers the space to add subtle shifts and variations, creating a sense of subverted expectations, as it moves from these stylistic totems. This is perhaps seen best in the blending of supernatural lore and slasher horror (something that rests at the heart of some of the most iconic slasher franchises in history), while also being brave enough to leave things ambiguous, as evidenced by one character’s change into a zombie like killer – possession, zombification, chemical alteration, infection? It never needs to say, and this sense of the unknown and oft-kilter adds a playful layer that echoes the gleeful awareness of the film, keeping the audience entertained and engaged. Furthermore, there is a keen willingness to play with convention particularly in terms of gender. The most prominent nudity within the film is centred around a male character, rather than the stereotypical exploitation of the female body; while the final girl’s journey is one that takes a surprising direction in terms of how willing the filmmakers are to establish her within that specific character mould, and then completely shock the audience by providing her none of the protection that the rules of the slasher game usually afford this almost hallowed figure. It’s such a bold interplay between expectation and subversion that it creates an almost evocative level of intrigue and stylistic confidence, demonstrating a keen eye for the blend of adoration and subversion in the creation of its own distinctive and anarchy vision. Not content with delivering a remarkably accurate love letter to lo-fi horror’s past, Lake Nowhere carves its own niche with personality and endearing attitude.

The key to Lake Nowhere’s success, and what makes it so tremendously effective as an act of homage, is not simply the reverence and attention to detail that the filmmakers devote to every frame and narrative decision, but the film’s absolute commitment to the world it is creating, not simply within the universe of the film, but within the complete physical reality of home viewing entertainment. Like Grindhouse before it, Lake Nowhere is equally concerned with the complete viewing experience; in particular it’s textures and idiosyncrasies. Where Grindhouse played on the titular Grindhouse cinema experience, Lake Nowhere is an ode to the VHS era, setting up the film with two fake trailers, a beer commercial and exquisitely composed video idents, while the imagery itself is wrought with the degenerated textures of fuzz, tracking marks and skipping audio. These establishing trailers and ads are so densely packed with iconography, pastiche and infectious fun, that they deserve their own reviews really, while crucially establishing the mood for the audience quickly and decisively. The trailers are joy to behold for perfectly capturing the essence of the cultural eras and genres they reflect, with Quando Il Fiume Scorre Rosso perhaps one of the most delightful and concise giallo homages ever created, and Harvest Man capturing relentlessly silly self-seriousness of sci-fi horror exploitation classics such as The Incredible Melting Man with absolute commitment. Indeed, this commitment to capturing these specific styles, not matter how brief the segment or light the reference, illustrates the filmmaking passion displayed by directors Christopher Phelps and Maxim Van Scoy. This passion is also abundantly obvious in the work achieved by the musical team, who have crafted a soundtrack that any 80s horror fan will adore for its schizophrenic collision of tones, where brooding strings and hyperactive synths live in utter demented harmony.

Lake Nowhere is a pitch perfect work of horror homage that avoids the indulgence and misshapen excess of other retro pieces to deliver a focused yet raucous return to the delights of horror’s golden age, which utilises the abundance of convention to construct a tight and captivating framework for the filmmakers to reveal in nostalgic reverence, while cannily exploiting exploitation cinema itself. Simply put, Lake Nowhere is a genuine throwback, and absolutely unmissable for anyone who loves horror cinema.

Rental Review: Lake Nowhere
4.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk