The Lake (2022)

Rating: C-

Dir: Lee Thongkham
Star: Theerapat Sajakul, Supansa Wedkama, Thanachat Tunyachat, Sushar Manaying

This Thai film feels like a combination of elements from a number of other countries’ monster movies. You’ll probably recognize bits from Jurassic Park and The Host, as well as more traditional kaiju flicks. I guess it is perhaps inevitable that, while taking copious notes, the makers ended up also reproducing the most common problem with a lot of these movies. Too much human bullshit, taking up valuable screen time which should be used for destruction. For instance, we are not here to watch the fractured relationship police inspector James (Sajakul) has with stroppy teen daughter, Pam (Wedkama). I’m just not interested. This is especially true when the monster is decent, as here. It deserves a better movie.

This takes place in a rural village, where the lake is home to a pair of monsters, one large and the other small, plus a sizable egg, embedded in the lakeside mud. For some unexplained reason, both post-hatched members of the family leaves the water and begin rampaging about on land. Those attacked include locals Keng (Tunyachat) and his sister Lin (Manaying). They both end up in hospital, but for a similarly vague reason, Keng’s injuries seem to created a psychic link with the smaller beast. Meanwhile, Inspector James is co-ordinating the local authority’s response, but makes the ill-advised decision to bring Pam along, after she gets suspended from school. Even more stupid: the egg ends up next to her in the back of his squad car.

No prizes for guessing how well this works out for them. Answer: about as well as the local villagers fare, after capturing the more “fun sized” monster in a net. Thai-zilla is less than impressed by both of these, and has the sheer metric tonnage to make everyone involved pay. I did love this incarnation of the beast, which is well-executed and highly motivated. Shame so much of the film seems to unfold at night, and/or in pouring rain, or in other ways that seek to obscure its majesty. When it or its smaller version are in local-munching action, the film is generally fast-paced and entertaining. It’s the unwanted desire to put a human face on events, which drags the film down like it was attached to an engine-block.

There are some elements which do work, such as the government cover-up, denying the incidents happened at all, blaming a rogue movie shoot. However, the ending is a particularly damp squib, dragging itself out for what feels like an excessively long time. It even adds on a “Five years later” coda that feels more concerned about creating a franchise, than adding much of value to this installment. When compared to our previous excursion into “When Thai animals attack”, The Pool, this clearly operates on a bigger scale, and is the more technically polished. Yet we probably enjoyed it less, and wished it had embraced its own excess to the degree necessary. This Lake is too placid.