Let’s get this out of the way right now.
THE LAKE (2023), a new giant monster movie from Thailand, is not only the worst movie I’ve seen this year, but the worst I’ve seen in a long time!
THE LAKE was released to theaters back in March and is now available to rent on Prime Video at a reduced price— gee, I wonder why?— but sadly the version that is available is dubbed in English, which is the number one reason why this one is so bad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen dubbing so bad before. It makes the goofy Toho Godzilla movies from the 1960s and 70s seem like high art.
The plot of THE LAKE is pretty standard giant monster movie fare. A monster emerges from a lake and terrorizes a small village in Thailand. Then, in a twist right out of the classic giant monster movie GORGO (1961), a larger monster emerges from the lake which happens to be the smaller monster’s mommy, and it attacks the village to get its baby monster back.
But none of this matters because the dubbing is so bad and completely sinks this movie. And by dubbing I’m not talking about the technical aspects of it, but the translation aspects. I have to believe that a lot was lost in translation, that the original Thai screenplay by Lee Thongkham, who also directed, couldn’t possibly be this bad. Could it?
The dialogue is nearly all exposition. For example, near the end of the movie, the villagers are all trying to escape, and they’re in a bus, and there’s a traffic jam, and panic ensues. There’s a conversation between a police officer and her superior which goes something like this:
Officer: Why is everyone leaving the bus?
Superior: Everyone is leaving bus?
Officer: Everyone is leaving the bus. They are running into the street. (While we see this happening on screen) They shouldn’t be leaving the bus. It is safer to be on the bus. Why are they leaving the bus?
Superior: It is safer to be on the bus. They should not be leaving the bus.
Officer: It is dangerous to be leaving the bus.
Superior: Yes, it is dangerous to be leaving the bus.
The entire movie is filled with conversations like this, that aren’t really conversations. They’re characters speaking but saying nothing, other than describing things that we are seeing playing out on screen. Another example: Are you hurt? Yes, I am hurt. I will call a doctor. I am calling a doctor. I am taking you to the doctor. We are almost at the doctor.
It’s horrible. The movie only runs for 90 minutes, yet it felt like three hours. The writing here reminds me of what I would expect A I -created content to be like. There’s no imagination or emotion. The actors are showing emotion, but the dubbed dialogue doesn’t speak to it. At all.
The story is a disaster as well. The movie opens with voice over narration that implies that the monsters and the humans are the same, and in fact, later, one of the characters becomes “connected” to the monster, and suffers the same injuries, but the script never explains how or why this happens. It does try to make the admirable point that people react out of fear, and that if we took the time to learn about beings that are different, we wouldn’t react that way, that we’d all be better for it, but the script fails at making this point as well.
The special effects aren’t bad, and the fact that CGI is minimally used is fun, but the final results are mixed. The monster looks best in the pre-credits sequence, which is shot in the rainy dark, which makes the monster look more menacing than when we see it later in full light. It looks like Alien and the 1998 Godzilla got together and had a baby. Until later when we get a better look at it, and at that point it looks like a giant Gremlin on steroids. At times it looks menacing, and at other times it looks like a guy in a rubber suit.
The characters are completely forgettable.
THE LAKE belongs in the Ed Wood category of movies. The only way to watch this one is if you’re drunk or high and want a few good laughs. For serious fans of giant monster movies, THE LAKE will disappoint.
It’s the worst movie I’ve seen in years.
I give it 0 stars.
Four stars – Perfect, Top of the line
Three and a half stars- Excellent
Three stars – Very Good
Two and a half stars – Good
Two Stars – Fair
One and a half stars – Pretty Weak
One star- Poor
Zero stars – Awful