Fantasia 2019: Lake Michigan Monster

Ryland Tews in Lake Michigan Monster.

Lake Michigan Monster, a small Wisconsin-made indie adventure comedy, is destined to be one of the weirdest films that anybody will see this year.

Captain Seafield (Ryland Tews) is putting together a “team of the century.” Their mission is to find the Lake Michigan Monster.  Team members include Nedge Pepsi (Beulah Peters), Sean Shaughnessy (Erick West), and Dick Flynn (Daniel Long).  Along the way, Seafield comes up with various operation names including Annihilation, Nauty Lady, etc.  All in the name of getting revenge on his dead father.

With its grainy black and white imagery, the film looks to be plucked out of the 1940s or 1950s.  In viewing the film remotely, you can see how their going for the old-time feel. I don’t know if this was filmed on celluloid or digital but in viewing a screener remotely, it certainly looked like celluloid.  It’s rather impressive for a micro-budget indie adventure comedy.  I won’t lie in that the $7,000 budget shows especially for some of the visual effects.  That’s not a strike on the visuals but this certainly isn’t a blockbuster if you know what I mean.

As for the Lake Michigan Monster itself, we get some early glimpses of the creature during Seafield’s mission to kill it.  Unfortunately, the titular monster does manage to take the life of a team member.  While this is certainly a sad moment, Seafield takes matters into his own hands.  To refer to the second half of the film as tripped up would not be an understatement.  The third act in particular is rather wild and not at all what I expected in the moments leading up.  It really does become a different kind of film in its own right.

As for the monster, this is where you can tell the difference between an indie and a blockbuster.  I honestly wasn’t even sure what to expect here.  Upon full reveal, I could not help myself but laugh quite a bit.  Seriously.  If the Lake Michigan Monster were a part of the CATS universe, the monster would fit in quite well.  While the production budget does show in Lake Michigan Monster‘s visual effects, please do not let this detract you.  Lake Michigan Monster gives viewers a film that is exactly as advertised.  This is a film that will certainly benefit from watching with an audience.  Maybe even at midnight!

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER:  Ryland Brickson Cole Tews
CAST:  Ryland Tews, Erick West, Beulah Peters, Daniel Long, Wayne Tews

Lake Michigan Monster held its International Premiere during the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.