12th May2017

‘Lake Tomahawk’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Brando Eaton, Eileen Dietz, Peter O’Brien, Caroline Tudor, Brad Schmidt, Laura Niemi, Michael Shamus Wiles | Written by Stevie Jane Miller | Directed by Ben Milliken


Originally titled Lake Alice, this unassuming horror film is actually the latest in a long line of seasonal slashers set at that most festive of times… Christmas.

Lake Tomahawk – from former actor turned director Ben Milliken (Newcastle, Blue Crush 2) – follows Ryan Emerson (Schmidt) who, while meeting his girlfriend Sarah’s (Tudor) family for the first time, must prove his intentions and win the approval of her father, Greg (O’Brien), while he masks his jealousy for Sarah’s ex-fling, Tyler (Eaton). As the Thomas family settles in, things start to happen around the cabin; strange footprints by the windows, noises from outside, and a bitter animosity from the locals, including the law enforcement. As a blizzard descends on Lake Alice so does the evil… As the Thomas family is hunted down one by one, the family struggle to stay alive as their power in numbers slowly dwindles.

Opening strong, Lake Tomahawk then proceeds to spend the majority of its running time keeping the audience in a perpetual state of suspense, offering up a wealth of possible suspects – most of whom are the townsfolk who are wary of the Thomas family (and strangers in general). The only person NOT suspicious of the Thomas family? that would be Eileen (The Exorcist) Dietz’s coffee shop owner, whose son dated Sarah previously… Hmmmm, possible red herring?

Things start small, a key disappears, there’s odd noises and creepy music on the soundtrack. You know, the usual horror movie tropes. Things kick up a gear halfway through the film as Milliken and his screenwriter Stevie Jane Miller decide that Lake Tomahawk should go down the The Strangers route – introducing a home invasion (well, cabin invasion) angle and a masked killer(s) armed with a camcorder, from whose point-of-view the film switches back and forth from. Fair enough, it provides the film with the excitement it desperately needed, but you can’t help but see the “been there, done that” story for what it is.

If there’s one positive thing you can say about this film, it’s that Lake Tomahawk doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. The film runs a swift 75 minutes; and thank god it does. Those early moments, where nothing much happens bar some drawn out familial scenes, are hard going. Add to that a number of audio issues, at least on the screener of the film provided, (between periods of sheer silence, badly mixed levels, and the obvious ADR/foley work; the sound certainly detracts from the story within); and Lake Tomahawk certainly tries its damnedest to put the audience off the film at each and every turn.

Despite the cliches, at least Lake Tomahawk has one thing going for it… It’s the women who save the day!


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