Cabin by the Lake (2000)
Director: Po Chich-Leong
Successful novelist Stanley (Nelson) is writing a screenplay for a pompous movie director. The script is about a serial killer who drowns women in a lake and keeps their corpses down there like a human garden. Guess what our good old boy is doing for research? You bet he’s drowning chicks and keeping them in the lake near his cabin! What a nut job!
This one could’ve been really good but someone took a dump in the mix before serving it on our plates. "Cabin by the Lake" has a lot going for it. First off, it has a very badass premise. This killer is definitely off his rocker. He keeps dead women at the bottom of a lake and now and then, slaps on some scuba gear to go tend to them. THAT IS WHACK YA'LL! Tag that with Po-Chich-Leong’s exquisite directing (the shots of the garden are morbidly captivating) and a strong “trip hop” soundtrack that accompanies the images and you have a technical achievement.
So what’s the problem, you may ask? Well, somebody decided that this flick should be a comedy and personally, I just couldn’t warm up to the cheeky vibe which inhabited this flick. The “funny” nerdy special effect artist felt out of place, the Hollywood people were annoying caricatures and Nelson’s performance aimed for “goofy” instead of deadly real. What happened here? THIS FILM IS ABOUT A KILLER WHO KEEPS BROADS AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE AND TENDS TO THEM LIKE A FREAKING GARDEN! NOT FUNNY, YO!
Its attempt at comedy isn’t this film’s only flaw. It also becomes redundant eventually (how many times is he going to kidnap that girl?) and sports lousy plot turns. The worst plot inconsistency is the one in which the chick who survives the serial killer’s attack, decides to stay around to play "lovey-dovey" with a boring cop, instead of flying home like she should. It’s so obvious that this lapse in logic is solely there so that the film can attain its foregone conclusion. The flick has a few more plot holes, but I won't spend the whole review listing them here.
On a positive note, some of the murders are pretty harsh (drowning is not a good way to go), the film has a few good ideas (I liked how the nutcase had his prisoners write on the walls) and a few of the more suspenseful scenes actually worked in terms of tension. It’s really unfortunate that they tried to lighten this one's tone. That just goes against everything that this movie should have been about. I guess that’s TV for you (this was shown as a "Network Movie Original" on the USA Channel). "Cabin by the Lake" could’ve been a very good movie instead of just an average time waster. Let's drown this “funny” beeyatch…
Nothing really worth mentioning, but the drowning scenes are pretty brutal.
Judd Nelson (Stanley) doesn’t blink and flares his nostrils a lot. That actually works most of the time! It’s when he tries to be campy that he fails the part. Hedy Burress (Mallory) is the strongest actor here, but she has to fight bad plot turns and the occasional stinky line to keep looking good. Michael Weatherly (Boone) phoned in his performance. Talk about wooden! Did he even want to be on set?
T & A
A bunch of Hollywood bimbos with fake tits and tight tops. That’s as good as it gets.
Po Chich-Leong is no hack (see "Wisdom of Crocodiles") but what the hell is he doing shooting this flick? His brilliant use of colors (lots of blue and red) and his stylish shots are almost fully wasted on the flawed script. Dude, you deserve better.
The trip-hop score which this film showcases had me grooving. Good shite!
"Cabin by the Lake" has a good premise and technically, it’s above average, but unfortunately its content is not executed the right way. They aimed for a comedy when it should’ve been a dark disturbing serial killer flick. Sorry if I don’t see anything funny about a guy that drowns chicks and plays garden with them afterwards. The injection of humor and the weak plot turns almost totally ruined what this film should’ve been about: horror.
Po Chich-Leong must dig doing TV movies because he’s also directing the sequel "Return To Cabin By The Lake". After "Wisdom Of Crocodiles", I expected more from this guy. What a shame.