Greetings from the Underground!
An urban legend and small-town drama are at the heart of a new horror film called Lantern’s Lane from director and writer Justin LaReau. It is a story of a college graduate who returns to her small hometown and meets up with her friends from high school. When they decide to explore a nearby abandoned home that is part of a local urban legend, they find themselves fighting to survive the night as they are tormented by a mysterious figure that wants to kill them.
Lantern’s Lane is two parts drama and one part horror. Justin LaReau’s script was focused on the friction between the college grad Layla and the friends she left behind when she went away for college. Once the story finally gets into the horror swing of things, it was great; it just takes a while to get there. Brooke Butler played Layla and put in a solid performance. I felt sympathy for her as she deals with the passive aggressiveness of her childhood friend Missy, played by Ashley Doris. Their friction felt like the authentic small-town drama that I have witnessed first hand. Unfortunately, the frequent flip-flop from getting along to not getting along was a bit distracting and went on longer than it should have. The performances of the actors were fine, it was just the way the characters were written that made it hard for me to get behind any of them. I am all for character development and depth in a slasher film, but in this case you understand the dynamic of the group very quickly and I don’t think it needed so much setup to get the point across.
The abandoned house on Lantern’s Lane is where things get more interesting. There is a masked maniac, tension filled chases and some dark secrets revealed that help make up for the first two-thirds of the film. I loved the location; this house felt like a threat all on its own. I also enjoyed the climatic ending. There is some wonderful banter between the characters and a twist or two. The design of the masked killer was simple but effective; a great variation on similar masks we have seen in other horror films. Blood and make up effects were used effectively and the use of shadows inside the house gave the scenes an extra layer of creepiness.
Lantern’s Lane is a middle tier indie horror film. I think had Justin LaReau got us to the title location sooner, it would have landed better with me. Once things do get going, there is a lot to enjoy for the horror fan. I am all for giving our characters depth so they are more than just killer fodder but I don’t think we needed as much of that as we get here. This story would have been better served as a short film that starts when the group gets to Lantern’s Lane. I recommend this to the casual horror fan who is not big on gore, jump scares and those who enjoy small-town drama.