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LANTERN’S LANE (2021)
Directed and written by Justin LaReau.
Starring Brooke Butler, Ashley Doris, Sydney Carvill, Andy Cohen, Justin LaReau, Lisa Roumain, Skip Howland, Robbie Allen
Layla (Brooke Butler) moved away from home to college after high school and hasn’t been back in two years. Until now. When Layla reconnects with some high school friends who never left, they decide to relive their high school thrills and go to Lantern’s Lane, a place in the woods where they used to drink and party that was supposed to be haunted by the ghost of an old woman with a lantern looking for her lost children. Once there, the kids reconnect, laugh, and argue about growing apart from one another, but when their car doesn’t start, they find themselves trapped in an old house with a hooded maniac outside. Typical slasher shenanigans happen.
I’ll tell you something. Had LANTERN’S LANE been released in the mid-eighties, it might be looked back on with some kind of admiration. The framework of this little slasher is familiar as the basic story has been done so many times since the era of the slasher. The story manages to have a few decent surprises, but in no way even attempts to reinvent the wheels that push the slasher subgenre along. LANTERN’S LANE is a plodding film that really doesn’t get started until 40 minutes in. Much of the “getting to know you” time is filled with what the filmmakers think is character, but it’s as bland as can be. The kids don’t look like they graduated high school two years ago, but I guess that’s a slasher trope from way back. They also lack that girl and boy next door quality and seem much more like actors and actresses chiseled for the Hollywood machine. Those left behind in the small town resent those who leave the city for better things. The film visits this old nugget over and over again with characters ripping into each other one second, then being back to besties the next. I understand giving some characters time so the audience can get to know them, but if the interactions are repetitive and lack any charisma, it’s not going to build investment. It’ll just build boredom.
Once things get rolling and the hooded maniac appears, things don’t get much better. The kids hole themselves up in an abandoned house and for some reason, though the maniac seemed to be waiting for the kids to arrive, he doesn’t have the ability to break into the home for some reason. This would be fine if the kids would just stay put, but of course, they have to take risks and leave the security of the abandoned home, putting them in harm’s way. This makes the maniac look like a moron. One of the kids even points out how shitty a killer he really is. Let’s not even mention that the inside of the abandoned home is littered with graffiti and completely trashed, so it seems, despite the locked door, taggers can break into the home, but our masked madman can’t. Pretty lame. It’s also weird that a masked maniac attacks them, when this is a story about a female ghost with a lantern haunting the area.
I don’t enjoy reviewing a movie like this. I really want to support low fi stuff, but this is a lame one, folks. The gore is low. The acting isn’t great. The pacing is abysmal. The script lacks punch and originality. The killer is bulky and the mask looks goofy and ill fitting. The general blueprint and idea behind LANTERN’S LANE have merit. You have to be pretty dedicated to the slasher genre to enjoy this one simply for it’s bones, but that structure is the only thing that really saves this one.