The opening montage for The Lake on Clinton Road shows what is apparently the most haunted stretch of road in the United States, and turns out to be the most interesting part of the film. If familiarity breeds contempt then what follows is a study in annoyance as yet another group of overly-pretty twenty-somethings head off into the woods to meet their bloody fates one by one.
This is DeShon Hardy’s first feature and he deserves respect for getting his film made, but there is an unavoidable amateurish feeling about the whole production. Everything feels a little raw and unpolished, and you could be forgiven for thinking this is a university or college project rather than a film for general release. There is a sense that Hardy gathered up a few friends and headed out to a cabin with a couple cameras and just filmed whatever came to mind. The acting, the dialogue and the camerawork are all too inconsistent to form a cohesive narrative, and the legend of a vengeful ghost boy upon which the film revolves never feels fully thought out or convincing.
That said that, there is something interesting here; a shadowy glimpse if you will into the future. Amidst the over-acting and questionable politics (one scene where the boys watch the girls exercise is particularly uncomfortable) there are moments of tension and the beginnings of an oppressive atmosphere. There is no doubting Hardy’s enthusiasm and ambition but a less-is-more-approach would have been advisable, allowing scenes to develop and suspense to build rather than rushing from one ill-conceived set piece to the next. This is a director with a future, but as Hardy’s filmography grows his debut may quickly be forgotten.
Given the sheer number of similarly themed films that exist, The Lake on Clinton Road is sadly not really worthy of attention. It aspires to be chilling like The Blair Witch Project and bloody like Friday the 13th but never really establishes a narrative capable of even slightly mimicking these films.
It is probably for the best if everyone involved just moves on very quickly.
THE LAKE ON CLINTON ROAD / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DESHON HARDY / STARRING: INDIA AUTRY, ARAM BAUMAN, ALAN BENDICH, ANT GRANT, DESHON HARDY / RELEASE DATE: TBC