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DVD Review: Sam’s Lake

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I’m a sucker for horror films in general, and when you throw in creepy woods and little stick figures (hello, Blair Witch!), I’m pretty much sold. Then add a nod to Twilight and the upcoming New Moon, and I’m a happy girl.

Sam’s Lake is produced by Mark Morgan and Guy Oseary (Twilight, New Moon, Devil’s Rejects, House of 1000 Corpses), along with Madonna’s Maverick Films. It’s also supposedly “inspired by a true murder mystery” (that part I have yet to substantiate).

This film, written and directed by Andrew C. Erin, doesn’t necessarily break new ground, as there are echoes of both The Blair Witch Project and Wrong Turn at play. But it does bring a mystical element to the story, which is a refreshing addition to the run-of-the-mill horror tale. There’s also a big plot twist, and then another twist within that twist.

Sam’s Lake stars Fay Masterson (Eyes Wide Shut, Paparazzi) as Sam, a city girl who brings her friends along when she visits the family cottage where she summered by the lake after which she is named. Along the way to the lake, the group stops at the closest gas station, the last symbol of “civilization” for an hour, and is warned by the creepy clerk to “stay away” in effect, a warning that the group laughs off (which you know will come back to bite them in the butt).

When the gang arrives at the cottage, they swim and play. And when the sun goes down, they sit around the campfire and tell scary stories. Sam tells the scariest tale of all when she shares a little story about a local boy who killed his whole family and then disappeared into the woods never to be seen again. And it just so happens that the house where the gruesome murders took place is right nearby where they are staying. What a coincidence!

Sam practically dares her friends to go inside the house where the murders took place, and when they all venture in, a mysterious journal seems to fall out of nowhere and the gang takes it and runs. It turns out the journal is full of first-person account of the killings of the past, and the more they read, the scarier things get.

Sam’s Lake was filmed in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, and the scenery is breathtaking. It easily passes for wherever-in-the-woods the film is supposed to be set, and as 99 percent of the film is shot outside, the setting could even be considered another character in the film.

This film also stars Sandrine Holt (Showtime’s “The L Word”, Resident Evil: Apocalypse); Stephen Bishop (The Rundown, Hancock, Friday Night Lights); Megan Fahlenbock (The Death of Alice Blue); Salvatore Antonio (Paradise Falls); and William Gregory Lee (“Dark Angel”, Cruel Intentions 3) as Jesse, Sam’s old friend and current resident townie.

Sam’s Lake is presented in widescreen aspect ratio 16:9 with sound provided in 5.1 Dolby Digital Stereo. Extras are next to nothing–just a stills gallery, a few trailers, Spanish subtitles and closed captioning options. The film is rated R “for violence and language” and has quick 87-minute run time.

Fans of horror films with creative twists set in creepy woods should check out Sam’s Lake. It’s not the best out there, but it is entertaining, and I’ve seen plenty worse.

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