My reviews often contain spoilers. So consider yourself warned.
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The Lake (1998)
Yasmine Bleeth has a little bit of a Heather Langenkamp thing going on. I dig that. Here she plays a nurse named Jackie who lives in Los Angeles but travels back to her small hometown of San Vicente after receiving news that her father is dying. Jackie and her mother left drunk daddy behind twelve years ago and this is the first time she has been home since.
There are some strange things going on in the town. Everyone is in on it, doppelgangers running amuck, let’s feed people to the evil lake strange. You know the sort of lake I mean – there is one is every state. The vortex where two worlds meet, it would be.
Jackie also, of course, left behind a hunky boyfriend when she jumped ship so many years ago and now he’s all grown up and become a hunky doctor who has kept the home fires burning. The two join forces and try to figure out just what the hell is going on.
Robert Prosky and Marion Ross play the kindly next door neighbors. Haley Joel Osment is on hand as well and does his precocious cute chipmunk act. Oh, yes, and listens to Cake.
Jackie’s father undergoes a miraculous overnight recovery and becomes… nice. That is when Jackie knows for sure without a doubt something is majorly wrong. And not only is he now pleasant – he X-rays backwards! Jackie thinks the lab just screwed up and printed the X-rays in reverse, but I have a feeling it is something more sinister. Evil lake! Remember? Then the neighbors become total creepies. One day Marion Ross is all, Oh, Jackie my husband isn’t the same anymore, he seems changed… ever since he took that fishing trip to the lake at night and fell in the water! And the next day she’s – My husband? Oh, there’s nothing the matter with him. Let’s have some tea!
Do you by chance recall the South Park episode with the evil parallel universe in which everyone had a double and the double had the exact opposite personality of their real world counterpart? Same thing here.
There is a very good moment with Marion Ross – she comes across her duplicate in an upstairs room of her home, in a scene that seems a pretty obvious mimicry of a similar bit from the original The Stepford Wives. You know… when Katharine Ross opens that door which reveals… her robot replacement. Marion Ross is GRRRRREAT in this and she seems to be relishing the opportunity to bitch it up a little. I wish they’d done more with her.
“The town with the open door” proclaims the slogan of San Vicente and they ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie.
Yasmine is superb even out of her swimsuit and this whole affair made me yearn for the cheesy made for television thrillers of yesteryear. It is all recycled and trivial fluff but it is well done and I’ve watched it several times since it initially premiered on NBC way back in 1998. Even the effects have held up – surprisingly so, thirteen years later. The cherry on top? The ending is a total and shameless ripoff of the studio mandated “happy” conclusion to the classic 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. B-