By Grant Duvall
In my lifetime, I have seen plenty of sea creature movies. The vast majority of the films have been trope-filled, drawn-out, filled with stereotypical characters, and with terrible special effects. LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER, the new film from writer, director, and star Ryland Brickson Cole Tews takes these all too familiar tropes and lampoons them into one of the most entertaining movies that have come out in a long time.
LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER is a fully black and white film with added effects to make it seem as though it was a movie from the 1920s. The film follows a sea captain named Seafield, played by Tews, who must assemble his "team of the century" to enter Lake Michigan and destroy the LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER who killed his father. The crew includes Nedge Pepsi, who is an expert on sonar, and she also acts almost like a narrator in a few spots explaining the plot when the story gets a little convoluted. Nedge is played by Beulah Peters with a total deadpan attitude, which makes her one of the most likable characters in the film. Sean (Erick West), is the weapons expert who maybe a little too excited to use his skills. Last but not least, Dick Flynn, played by Daniel Long, was in the navy and acts as the expert swimmer, who may or may not have a dark past. Will our brave band of unlikely heroes be able to find the LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER and avenge Seafield's father? I can't ruin that, nor can I talk much further of what happens over the next 78 minutes.
LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER starts fast and ends fast. There is no slowing down, no moments of boredom. This movie moves at such a quick clip that you won't even notice that only an hour and eighteen minutes has flown by. Being that there are so many fun sight gags, this lends the movie to multiple viewings so you can catch every fun little detail. Before I get ahead of myself on all of the merits of this movie, I would be remiss to not talk about Seafield, who is played with such humor and gusto that he almost reminded me of a Will Ferrell-type character. Tews' has such great comedic chops as well as excellent timing that it's a crime that he hasn't been placed in more films. The whole cast shines in this movie that is so self-referential that several of them acknowledge that this is a movie and are aware that they are in a low budget film. This movie feels as though it was shot on a shoestring budget, but that only adds to the charm. This film is cut from the same cloth as Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, which is a win in my book. One of the most endearing gags is that all of the action takes place six feet from the shore, allowing for tons of ridiculous moments. An unexpected surprise of the movie was that there were moments of Rocky and Bullwinkle-style animation on the captain's map as he came up with plans on how to get the monster, and each of these animations were a delight. The last big part I have to talk about are the special effects. These were done cheaply, but they have a very fun, To the Moon-like feel to them. The effects know that they are cheap and the movie leans into that truth. The effects are a major highlight of the movie. Some of the scenes are framed almost as an Old Spice commercial, with Seafield staying in place while the action happens around him.
This movie was a very pleasant surprise as well as a laugh out loud comedy. The characters are all likable and nothing feels forced. The direction was on point, and the movie is pleasing to the eye. There's even a hysterical musical number at the midway point as well as nice sea-shanty over the ending credits. With this much fun, why would you choose another movie?