Lake Michigan Monster is a deliriously fun homage to the classic monster and adventure movies of the 1950s. Every detail is lovingly crafted to create this perfect little capsule of a film that is absolutely soaked with character. As a self-funded microbudget film, the simplistic effects and in-camera tricks add buckets of charm that will make you fall in love with every ridiculous minute.
In Lake Michigan Monster, the eccentric Captain Seafield hires a crew of specialists to help him plot revenge against the creature that killed his father. After several failed attempts, Seafield is forced to take matters into his own drunken hands. What began as a simple case of man versus beast soon plunges down a rabbit hole of mysterious unknowns and Lovecraftian hijinks.
The film has already hit the festival circuit, winning the Audience Award for Best International Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival in 2019 — and for good reason. In a world of franchises and slow burn atmospheric dread (not a bad thing, mind you), Lake Michigan Monster is a delightful reminder of how joyfully bonkers film can be.
Visually, it’s everything you’d want from a stylized period-inspired genre comedy. With simple sensibilities, at times it’s hilariously low-budget, while others give you that feeling of a surreal drug-fueled fever dream. The VFX and the editing (both done by Mike Cheslik) have a perfect marriage that hits every comedic mark just a little bit harder.
The film stars Ryland Brickson Cole Tews as Seafield, Erick West as weapons expert Sean Shaughnessy, Beluah Peters as sonar whiz Nedge Pepsi, and Daniel Long as former N.A.V.Y. (Nautical Athletes and Venture Yunit) officer Dick Flynn.
It’s no surprise that the film’s dynamic lead, Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, also wrote and directed the film. His performance as Seafield — the self-appointed Captain of this motley crew — is absolutely golden. He’s perfected the line delivery and goes over-the-top to build a precise caricature, but it’s never ostentatious. Tews walks straight up to that line, flirts with it constantly, but never crosses.
If you’re a fan of truly absurd campy comedies, this low-budget marvel is an absolute treat. What Tews and the team are able to pull off is insane and wildly impressive. Lake Michigan Monster has all the makings of a beloved cult classic, with a script laced with whip-smart quips that are shot like a quick-draw gunslinger.
But as goofy as the film is, it shows a mature understanding of — and passion for — the world of cinema. The camera tricks and moments of visual comedy perfectly capture that maverick spirit of the early days of film. It’s inventive, engaging, and consistently fun.
Lake Michigan Monster is — incredibly — Tews’ first feature film, and with all honesty I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.
If you’d like to check it out yourself, Arrow Video will be hosting a 24-hour virtual premiere on AltaVOD on July 31st that comes equipped with an introduction from the filmmaker and a Q&A session featuring members from the cast and crew. Or, you can catch it streaming on The Arrow Video Channel in the UK & US from August 3.