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BWW Review: Poor Scare Tactics and Mild Thrills From 'HOUSE BY THE LAKE'

HOUSE BY THE LAKE has all the essentials that make a decent horror film; unsuspecting and naive adults, secluded location, tense musical score, creepy kid, but the one important element it's missing is, the actual horror. Random Media takes us to a quite charming haven where everything seems so serene...until it isn't. HOUSE BY THE LAKE stars James Callis ("Battlestar Galactica", the Bridget Jones series), Anne Dudek ("Covert Affairs", "Big Love") and Amiah Miller (War for the Planet of the Apes, Lights Out) as a family looking to get away from the normalcy of their lives and to try to retreat to reconnect with each other.

Directed by Adam Gierasch (Night of the Demons, TALES of Halloween, Fractured, Autopsy), and written by newcomer Josh Burnell, HOUSE BY THE LAKE also features Natasha Bassett (Hail Caesar!) and Michael Bowen ("Lost", "Breaking Bad") as the family's nanny and the incredibly weird man who lives down the beach. HOUSE BY THE LAKE will debut nationwide on Cable VOD, Digital HD and DVD on October 10th.

A struggling couple, Scott and Karen, pack up their troubled young daughter and head to a picturesque lake house to reconnect and put their problems behind them. As Emma spends time with her new nanny, the little girl begins fixating on an imaginary friend she calls the "Fish Man". Karen's fear of the strange man down the beach, Emma's fear of the water and her recurring sleepwalking continue to raise tensions in the house and drive a wedge between Scott and Karen until one night Emma disappears. When she's found breathing underwater in the tub, Emma insists she's been with the Fish Man. And he's coming back for her.

A huge complaint about movies nowadays are that they do not spend enough time building a narrative, setting things into place. While that's not technically the problem here, with a screen-time shorter than the season seven finale of Game of Thrones, Gierasch really needed to hurry things along. What's worse, the situation at hand is never really explained in great detail. We just know that this "Fish Man" is haunting Emma's thoughts and dreams and is causing problems for her parents and her nanny.

The chemistry between Callis and Dudek, two veteran actors, tend to range from awkward and dull to sufficient. But I don't place the blame on them for their uninspired performances, there is only so much they can do with roughly 70 minutes of screen-time and (at very best) a mediocre script.

HOUSE BY THE LAKE is a movie that could have tremendously benefited from having more screen-time, and a more concise storytelling component. And while the acting in this movie is nowhere as terrible as one might expect, the laughable appearance of the "Fish Man" more than makes up for it.

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From This Author Richard Best

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