A good low budget horror can be a difficult thing to pull off. Sure, they are easier to make than ever, but people are also more judgmental now. What was once seen as charming is now just seen as cheap. After all, there are plenty of YouTubers with good production values. Lake Michigan Monster is straight and to the point. The captain of a ship puts together a crew to take care of the sea monster that killed his father. But is the Team of the Century good enough to capture a monster banned from four lakes?
Things get off to a great start. The film is shot in black and white and has a newsreel look and feel to it. Lake Michigan Monster looks like something that would have been shown in an elementary school classroom on a slide projector. It even has over the top characters and lettering. This immediately gives audiences an idea of what they are going to see.
Lake Michigan Monster initially lives up to expectations. Films that are made with this aesthetic have an inherent silliness to them. Director and writer Ryan Brickson Cole Tews takes full advantage. The best thing to do with this type of movie is to lean into the absurdity of it all. The grainy look and sudden jump cuts are not overdone. Plus, Tews inhabits his world with silly characters and situations.
Tews is wonderful as Seafield. He is an over the top caricature of a sea captain found in old books and serials. The comedy comes in quick succession and is pun filled. The randomness that sometimes bogs down today’s humor is used sparing and to great effect in Lake Michigan Monster. The entire film is filled with laugh out loud moments.
The story is a simple one and Tews does a good job of not trying to make it overly complicated. The middle part of Lake Michigan Monster is split into chapters that denote each plan Seafield and his crew have. These are probably the best parts of the movie. The plans have wonderfully goofy names and a sense of fun runs through each segment.
As amusing as Lake Michigan Monster can be, things start to wear thin about halfway through. The style does not change dramatically, it just becomes too much. The jokes start to run longer as if to fill time while the story takes on a surreal aspect that borders on nonsensical. Even at under an hour and a half, the movie feels like it is too long.
This is not to say it ever stops being fun. Lake Michigan Monster is one of those rare films that can lose its way and still entertain the audience. The rapid fire jokes of earlier become drawn out past the point of being funny. The silly premise from earlier was as grounded in reality as a creature feature can be. It takes a turn for the surreal in the last act. Despite it all, it keeps audiences watching.
There are still genuinely funny moments and a curiosity regarding Seafield’s quest. The main issue with Lake Michigan Monster is it does not work well as a movie. It is constantly moving forward with its jokes and visuals and never gives the audience time to catch their breaths. A series of shorts would have been much more palatable for the story they were telling.
Lake Michigan Monster is an interesting watch. It is a movie that will have the audience laughing from the beginning to end. It has great characters and is filled with a jolly moody not not always found in film. It can also become a little tedious the longer it goes on. Better served in bite sized pieces, it is worth your time – as long as it is not in one sitting.
Lake Michigan Monster premieres on Arrow Video Channel August 3rd.