2018 Milwaukee Film Festival – Review – LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER
LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER is a love letter to monster movies, specifically CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, and the City of Milwaukee. In all their absurd glory and kitsch. It would be hard to wedge a tongue further in cheek than the film manages to do with over the top performances, wacky visuals, broad caricatures, and every Milwaukee landmark they can manage to fit in.
LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER is not going to win any prizes for script or acting and it’s a small friends and family production. But, it has two things going for it at all times, energy and visual inventiveness. The latter is probably the biggest surprise. There’s a thanks to Guy Maddin in the credits, but before that everyone involved has done their best to live up to that inspiration.
Ryland Tews and Mike Cheslik wear many hats in bringing this local production to zany life. Not all the jokes land, but they keep punching away. What’s most impressive is how they don’t just settle for aping Kevin Smith and just put the camera on a tripod. There are impressive camera moves, setups that are always visually interesting, a loving use of locations, and a long special effects sequence at the end. All filmed in glorious black and white, full of scratches and grain. It feels like it’s at home referencing anime and something like Bergman’s PERSONA.
Am I giving the production the local benefit of the doubt? Quite possibly, and you shouldn’t go in expecting much more than a fun low budget local boys make good production. Is LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER going to play outside of Milwaukee? Doubtful. Which is all the more reason to see it with a sure to be enthusiastic crowd.
LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER is part of the Milwaukee Film Festival’s Cream City Cinema Program. It plays twice more at the 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival on Monday, October 29 at 9 pm at the Jan Serr Studio Cinema and on Wednesday, October 31 at 9:45 pm at the Oriental Theatre.
The 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from October 18, 2018 to November 1, 2018. Information and tickets can be found at Milwaukee Film’s website.