Lake Michigan Monster (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

Some indie films are like inside jokes that you almost have to have some knowledge about to get. I get “Lake Michigan Monster.” I do. It has the best of intentions, it’s a home grown bare bones budgeted action monster movie, and it pays tribute to Michigan the best that it can. But in the end I was happier that “Lake Michigan Monster” was barely eighty minutes in length than I was watching the movie altogether.

The eccentric Captain Seafield hires a crew of specialists to help him plot revenge against the creature that killed his father. After several failed attempts, Seafield is forced to take matters into his own drunken hands. What began as a simple case of man verses beast soon plunges down a rabbit hole of mysterious unknowns and Lovecraftian antics and adventures. Seafield soon faces off against the Lake Michigan Monster.

Ryland Brickson Cole Tews films the entire movie in murky black and white never quite evoking the atmosphere of a classic monster movie. Instead it ends up feeling a lot more like an art house candy coating with a schlocky center that never quite sticks the landing. A lot of times the murky black and white feels like it’s intended to mask a lot of the weak points of the production; it becomes much too obvious at times. “Lake Michigan Monster” sets out to work like an exaggerated “Jaws” and “Moby Dick” but with the tongue in cheek comedy of “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.”

The problem is much like the aforementioned spoof, the humor never quite lands, even when you catch on to where the gags and winks are inspired from. Ryland Brickson Cole Tews obviously has his heart in the right place, but “Lake Michigan Monster” never amounts to anything but very niche entertainment with occasionally clever jokes that feel accidental. I can’t recommend “Lake Michigan  Monster” but I respect Ryland Brickson Cole Tews for creating a bizarre work of pop filmmaking that he obviously had a great time making.

Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 11th to August 1st 2019