Conspiracy Theory [Lake on Fire] (2016)

Sometimes you have to wonder what in the world the distributors were thinking.

Case in point:  here we have a film with an interesting and evocative title, “Lake on Fire” and somehow we’ve improved things by switching to something bland and overused (and no, this isn’t the one with Mel Gibson.  Stop asking that).

Perhaps they thought it was appropriate because there have been so many found footage films that, as a sub-horror genre, they’ve become a bit bland and overused.  Everyone wants more of the same, right?

Go figure.

But Jake Myers and his crew are aware of just how routine this sort of thing has become, and instead decide to have a lot of fun of playing with our expectations.  We have that opening clip, promising us dire, frightening events, and then, instead of the usual students making a film, or the friend who films everything, we get the film crew working on a story.  Yes, it has been done before as well, but this is the crew of the TV show, Alien Engineers!

They, of course, have managed to find evidence of alien engineering just about everywhere, like Chicago, and are now trying to unearth the alien influences at work in Las Vegas.  I mean, that’s a pyramid, right?  And its only a little way from Area 51!  Naturally, their next stop is Hoover Dam, which clearly demonstrates technology far beyond ours, as well as winged guardians and a 26,000 year clock.  No human being would do that!

They know very well that what they are making is silly fluff.  One of the characters actually worries, after watching one of their reruns, that people believe their ridiculous claims.

But then they interview a UFO expert camped on Lake Mead, who tells them strange stories of mysterious lights and alien submarines.

And that’s when things really go wrong.

As usual with found footage films, one could complain that it takes far too long getting to the creepy stuff, but along the way we find the twin sisters whose alien implants interfere with each other if they get too close, absurd science shows and a real-life Area 51 employee playing a real-life Area 51 employee being interviewed for Alien Engineers.

But as casual as it all looks, there are a lot of important facts hidden in it all, which lead to some nice details later on (note, for example, what happens to their cameras when two of the characters get close to them).

Perhaps the best part, though, is the nicely ironic ending, which plays with our expectations once again, throws an entirely different slant on the dire hints of the opening and then deliberately reduces everything that has happened to the absurd level of an episode of Alien Engineers!

Nicely done.  It may not be a film for the ages, but it entertains, makes us laugh – then jump – and somehow finds just a little new territory in one of the most heavily explored areas around.

(My thanks to Team Octagon for supplying a screener)


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