Sam’s Lake (2006)

Rating: C-

Dir: Andrew C. Erin
Star: Fay Masterson, Sandrine Holt, William Gregory Lee, Megan Fahlenbock

Sam (Masterson) and her urbanite friends head off for the weekend to a cabin by a remote lake. While gathered around a camp-fire, she tells the story of a teenage boy, who slaughtered his entire family in their house, then vanished into the woods. Ooh, the house is nearby – wouldn’t it be an adventure to go and explore it? And what’s this they find? A dusty journal? Hey, what could possibly go wrong from there? The main problem is the seriously-uninteresting first-half, which appears to be trying to combine the least interesting aspects of Halloween and Friday the 13th, while leaving out all the tension of the former and gore of the latter.

The writer-director seems to think these characters are a good deal more fascinating than they actually are, and as a result, things take far too long to get started. We. Don’t. Care. Since their fate is abundantly clear from the get-go, the makers would have been wise to skip all the emo soundtrack nonsense, and just get on with it. If you can stay awake long enough (and pointy objects may be required) things do perk up a good bit, when Erin suddenly remembers he’s not directing a rural episode of The OC. We came here to see people being pursued by psychos through the woods.

That’s basically what the film delivers for the last thirty minutes, though even here there is perhaps too much stalk and not enough slash. It’s probably not giving too much away to say that Holt – whom you may recall as the reporter from Resident Evil: Apocalypse – does much of the heavy work, as far as the required disciplines of ‘running and screaming’ are concerned, and isn’t bad at it. While the identity of the killer(s) is hardly any great surprise, the film definitely goes into a different gear from that moment on, with a sense of relentlessness that is nicely crafted. Unfortunate that it’s too little, too late.