TERROR AT LOST LAKE (2012) Dir. Marcus Nash 80 mins High Fliers UK Release: 15th July 2013
Ezra Buzzington is one of those character actors that you feel should be better known. He first came in to the public consciousness as Weird Al in Ghost World, before going on to feature in films like Secretary, Art School Confidential and a particularly great performance in Chad Ferrin’s Someone’s Knocking At The Door (n.b – hunt this down now if you haven’t seen it). However, it seems whatever he stars in will be saddled with the banner ‘featuring Ezra Buzzington from The Hills Have Eyes’. Is there a use by date for such attachments? I guess not, after all Linda Blair’s movies always had ‘starring the pea soup kid from The Exorcist’ and such like. This is a long-winded way of saying that whatever film this guy is in benefits immeasurably from his performance.
In Terror At Lost Lake we discover that Buzzington plays Uncle Vern who happens to have gone ghost hunting at the deserted Lost Lake and is currently unreachable, a scenario that his family find very unusual. Fortunately Jeff (John Schartzer) offers to drive Vern’s niece Tricia (Katie Keene), who also happens to be his girlfriend up there to look for him. Stopping on the way at a grocery store, the cashier offers some doom-mongering in the form of “Lost Lake is haunted”, but Jeff and Tricia carry on regardless arriving there shortly after.
The location for the town is an excellent find. In reality it’s the town of Trona in the Mojave Desert, once a thriving mining community it’s been devastated by decades of layoffs and now stands almost desolate. In the film as Jeff and Tricia drive in, the screen is filled with the dry barren landscape, punctuated by abandoned cars, dilapidated housing and a disused petrol station.
Tricia is pretty convinced that there must be a presence of some kind in the town, and it’s not long before she sees a figure of something she can’t explain. Jeff however is a cold hearted cynic and needs convincing. After Tricia’s sighting though, they decide to knuckle down and focus on the business of finding Uncle Vern. Moments later they stumble across his truck and the keys are still in the ignition, an ominous sign perhaps albeit a short-lived one as soon after they stumble across Vern who is safe and well and over the moon to see his niece.
Vern takes the couple back to his temporary accommodation and tells of his expectation of seeing a ghost later that day. He has befriended the last remaining resident of Lost Lake, and as well being a believer in the supernatural, she has informed him when he’ll be most likely to see an apparition. The couple agree to wait it out with Vern, and even agree to assist by using their camera phones to film any ghostly activity. Is this ghost hunting mission as simple as Vern makes out, or is there something more sinister at play?
Being an avid horror geek I approached Lost Lake with a notable lack of enthusiasm, expecting another generic by the numbers horror flick. Thankfully Lost Lake ripped my apathy from me, screwed it into a ball, doused it in lighter fluid and incinerated in the barbecue. Granted, this movie isn’t going to sweep the board at any genre awards ceremony, but from the micro-budget it cost it has the achievement of not conforming to the ubiquitous list of horror clichés that form the basis of most DTV horror.
Both Katie Keene and John Schartzer provide solid performances, but the film belongs to Ezra Buzzington, who as Uncle Vern is magnificent as this intriguing and multifaceted character. Verdict 6 out of 10