Lake Michigan Monster is a delirious midnight madness movie. A micro-budget horror comedy that is unlike any movie I have seen in 2020. What starts off as a monster chase turns into a trippy journey I did not expect. I laughed, I was startled, I was confused, and yet I could never look away.
Lake Michigan Monster starts with a simple premise: Seafield (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews) and his crew are on a mission to kill the Lake Michigan monster, a mythical monster responsible for the death of Seafield’s father years ago. But what starts as a mission to kill this monster turns into something Seafield never expected.
Along with starring in the film, Ryland Brickson Cole Tews ALSO wrote and directed the film and it is quite an extraordinary feat. This is the definition of microbudget, as the reported budget of the film was $7,000. But even with the extremely limited budget, the film never felt cheap. This was Tews first feature film and a lot of the time first films at this budget feel more like student films rather than a first film. The director would make a movie that looks and feels like a college film student thesis film, which is never really enjoyable to watch. And though some of the costumes, makeup, and effects are at times a little rough, it adds some midnight fun to the movie and overall, the film looks better than some big budget studio films and has a fun, interesting plot behind it.
What’s most impressive about the film is the cinematography. The film is entirely in black and white, a homage to the Ed Wood classics of the 1950’s that essentially invented the midnight movie, and it is gorgeous. The black and white grittiness really shines in the back half of the film, with scenes of heavy white light contrasting with the pitch black really giving the movie a trippy look. This is one of the best looking movies I have seen in 2020.
Lake Michigan Monster is a movie full of life, energy, madness and humor, some very dry, some fourth wall breaking. For a film that is barely over one hour long, there is a lot going on, yet it is never messy and is always compelling. The first half of the film is interesting enough that it kept me engaged, as Seafield and his crew go through a number of different, hilariously named plans to kill the monster that all fail. But I really loved the second half of the film, where Seafield goes on an El Topo-esque odyssey that features a trip to depths of Lake Michigan, a ghost ship, and a homage to Ingmar Bergman. It’s utterly insane but the exact weirdness this movie needed to round out its midnight movie vibe.
Lake Michigan Monster would be best viewed late at night with a large group of people who are at least four drinks in. It is a perfect midnight movie and one that I want to see on the big screen. It is as weird as it is funny and there is plenty of both. Ryland Brickson Cole Tews shows some true skill here and I would be very interested in seeing what he does next. You won’t see a film like Lake Michigan Monster in 2020.
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