30th Jul2019

Fantasia 2019: ‘Lake Michigan Monster’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Daniel Long, Beulah Peters, Ryland Tews, Wayne Tews, Erick West | Written by Ryland Tews, Mike Cheslik | Directed by Ryland Brickson Cole Tews


Lake Michigan Monster is a title that screams SyFy Original to sit alongside Sharknado and Lavantula. Although there are some similarities between this and those ridiculous (and mostly fun) movies, this film does offer up plenty of surprises and fresh ideas. It’s like a parody of the forties and fifties monster B-movies, even completely shot in black and white. And the writer/director/star of the movie Ryland Brickson Cole Tews is clearly a fan of these, he just adds in a whole lot of crazy comedy.

Lake Michigan Monster isn’t a movie that takes itself very seriously, it knows exactly what type of film it is. The plot is flimsy, there’s not a whole lot to it but that’s fine. A sea captain brings a team together – well three people and himself – to find a monstrous sea creature that has recently killed his father. But that just scratches the surface (despite a even crazier back-story) as we venture on a land and underwater fantasy adventure that rarely slows down. There’s swords, there’s fights, there’s pirates, there’s ghosts, there’s of course, monsters and a whole lot more.

The comedy, thankfully, works more than it doesn’t. Ryland Brickson Cole Tews in the lead shows some excellent comic timing and his delivery is near perfect. Even if the joke doesn’t quite hit home, his facial expressions and delivery will probably have you laughing anyway but even if not, there are plenty of good one liners. It’s a very quotable movie. The acting performances from a really likeable cast are very good, a perfect fit for the style of movie. Strangely like a mix of the Naked Gun franchise and a Bam Margera movie. I know that sounds very odd.

For what is a seemingly low budget the director has made something that is visually very impressive. It definitely has a homemade feel to things. The fantasy element of the movie really comes into its own with how the movie looks. Yes, it is low budget CGI but it somehow works much better than you’d expect. It’s shot really well and the excellent lighting and flashiness of it all is like a feast for the eyes, while it just continues to throw stuff in your face. There’s some really creative things going on with Lake Michigan Monster.

Fantasia festival has thrown up plenty of bizarre movie and Lake Michigan Monster is certainly one of them. You’ll see things here that you will have never seen before. The jokes very nearly wear thin but most importantly the film is a crap load of fun. It will make you smile and laugh and not make you think a whole lot. I had recently watched quite a few ‘heavy’ movies and an over-the-top completely unique faux B-movie like this was exactly what I needed.

*** 3/5

Lake Michigan Monster screened on Thursday July 25th as psrt of the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival.


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