Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Joe Robert Cole
What's it about
Three sisters, who have never met, are summoned to their estranged father’s lake house, where he proceeds to die under mysterious circumstances. An Irish cop with no accent must then discern what really happened.
Is it good movie?
Amber Lake starts off with a pretty neat concept. Patrick Thomas, an eminent psychiatrist and prominent son of a bitch, writes three letters to his three estranged daughters, two of whom he’s never even met. They arrive at the cottage on the titular lake, only to discover that they all also share its name. Thomas proceeds to attempt “helping” his three Ambers with their striking personality disorders, mostly by being brutally honest to the point of cruelty. When he winds up dead in the lake the next day, the Ambers proceed to tell three very different versions of a story to the investigating officer, each one implicating one of their fellow sisters.
Unfortunately, a good concept does not a good movie make. Right off the bat, the girls are cookie-cutter: One is the bimbo; one the (pseudo) goth; and one the introverted geek. I know the point was to have their personality disorders striking and on the surface, but I found no nuance in either the writing or the portrayals. This movie is 80-minutes long, but feels twice that length from having to watch the same scenes multiple times, only played out slightly differently. And when you finally see what actually happens, it bears no resemblance to any story either of them told, and gives no impression why they each would have been so hot to pin the blame on one another. For such a wordy script, it can never quite make up its mind what anyone’s motivations are, and as such leaves the viewer feeling adrift.
The actresses definitely put themselves all out in their roles, and I’ll give them credit for their fearlessness, but the script left them little more than whining harpies in the end. They all went over the top, but regardless of how hard they were working, the script only gave them one note to play. The production is slick, both in terms of look and sound, but there’s just nothing here. It’s a skeleton of an idea that never goes anywhere.
Video / Audio
Amber Lake has a good concept and some fearless actresses…but also an overly-wordy script and an 80-minute runtime that feels twice as long. It sets the viewer up for a big aha moment, and then fails to deliver. I can’t give this one any sort of recommendation.