HOUSE BY THE LAKE * U.S.A. 2017 Dir: Adam Gierasch 77 mins
Suffering from a period of marital ennui, James Callis and Anne Dudek take a vacation at his dad’s luxury lakeside retreat, and soon their wide-eyed autistic daughter’s night terrors dramatically worsen, particularly as she develops an imaginary friendship with someone she calls “The Fish Man”.
The relationship falters further, arguably not helped by their young nanny (Natasha Bassett, the only bright spot), wandering around in bikini tops at least one size too small. Meanwhile, Michael Bowen has the face of a sex offender and the shirt of an unemployed porn star as a creepy old hippy neighbour destined to be blamed for everything when things go badly wrong. This misfire from prolific genre writer / director Gierasch (best known for AUTOPSY and the remakes of TOOLBOX MURDERS and NIGHT OF THE DEMONS) mostly plays out as a tedious drama, with unconvincing soap opera dialogue, unsympathetic characters and at least one unintentionally funny, melodramatic moment. The horror elements only kick in at the very end, having apparently drifted in from a completely different movie. You’ll be rooting for The Fish Man…and wishing you were watching ISLAND OF THE FISHMEN.
Review by Steven West