17 October 2011 | sandert
Amber Lake, chilling and charming at once!
Amber Lake is a low budget movie with high qualities. Joe Robert Cole directed this psychological thriller which takes place at Amber Lake. Psychiatrist Patrick Thomas wants to meet his three daughters each called Amber before his life is coming to an end. The three sisters, each with their own disorder and named after the Amber Lake, get the chance to meet their father for the first time in their adult life. Two days after they finally meet each other, he is found dead in their lake and name, Amber.
Following that moment, the movie starts to become a psychological murder mystery. And a good one I may add. The performances delivered by the three upcoming actresses are chilling and charming at once. There is a fine line between overacting a inner disorder and underacting the severe impact such an disorder could have. I'm glad to say that they walked that fine line perfectly. There are even some funny subtle moments in the movie, which even give the characters more depth. Watching the story unfold and seeing more of their disorder come to light is both a thrill and unsettling. The portrayal of the father completes the ensemble both performance and presence wise. He is played with an authority which is a good contrast with how the Ambers are portrayed.
I have to say, for a director at the start of his professional career, this movie will be one that even after years to come, he can look back upon with great satisfaction. It's a raw movie, with some interesting cuts to a beat during the intro and further along the movie. The sound design is great, lending sound cues from the TV show "Lost" and "The Dark Knight" but bending them towards the character of this movie. The stringy sound of the music, helps set the mood of anarchy in the minds of the three sisters and their father. But also the absence of music in the movie emphasizes the loneliness of each character. The visual presentation is in conjuncture with the sound and theme of the movie. Empty wide shots filled with characters who fill the scene with emptiness. It feels like a slideshow, where every picture empty as it is, is rich of details and tells a story, which combined makes the movie more than a sum of its parts. Although it is low budget, the total look and feel could have been from a high budget production where the director made stylistic choices ending up with the same result.
This is a great movie for everyone who likes murder mysteries with a partially surprising end. Minor faults in audio recording and some quirky filmed shots (which maybe were even left in on purpose during the editing) don't make the movie less good. It even gives it a certain quality which you rarely see in low budget movies. Normally a low budget movie shows us what can't be done, this movie shows us, what can be done. Doing this on a lower budget definitely makes it worth 9 out of 10. As mentioned before, this movie is more than the sum of its parts, well worth seeing.