“Urban Legends are everywhere” the text at the beginning of Lantern’s Lane tells us, before adding “But some are real”. And writer/director Justin LaReau (A Demon Within) based his script on a legend from his hometown of Watseka Illinois, but somehow in the retelling, it went from a ghost story to a slasher.
Layla (Brooke Butler, All Cheerleaders Die, The Sand) left home to attend college, and like many young people never went back. Now, at the invitation of her old friend Missy (Ashley Doris, Flight 666, Little Dead Rotting Hood) she’s coming back for a visit.
She meets up with Missy, another old friend (Andy Cohen, Tales from the Hood 2, Aztec Revenge) and a new addition to the group Shana (Andy Cohen, Dark Cycle) at a bar. Drinks and reminiscing lead to the group heading out to the town’s haunted street, Lantern’s Lane. But there’s something a lot more dangerous than a ghost waiting there for them.
Lantern’s Lane opens with a long dose of exposition as the characters sit around at the bar and fill us in on everything we need to know about them. And that’s a foretaste of what we’re going to get for most of the rest of the film. Lots and lots of talk.
It’s quickly apparent from all this talk that Layla has moved on with her life while Missy still acts like they’re in high school. And she still finds their treatment of Shana’s sister hysterical, even though the girl eventually killed herself. Why these two would want to see each other again, or why Shana would want to associate with Missy, is beyond me.
“Knowing that [legend] and being there when I was a kid is what generated the idea originally,” LaReau said. “Then, from there, I’m putting twists on it. It’s more of a slasher film where this group of individuals reunite after college and decide to go out where they went as kids…Justin LaReau
I hoped once they get out to Lantern’s Lane itself things would improve. No such luck, the ghost that’s supposed to haunt the road doesn’t show up so they sit in the car and insult each other. Then they decide to check out an abandoned house that has its own horror story attached to it. The story isn’t very scary, and the house just looks like any other empty, vandalized house. But they’re stuck there because, conveniently enough, their car died.
Lantern’s Lane is actually closing in on the hour mark before the killer shows up. I’m assuming they were meant to start the rampage sooner but fell asleep reading the script. Unfortunately, all they bring is another pile of cliches. The script is almost entirely devoid of imagination and plays like the syllabus for Stalk and Slash 101. And that extends to both the identity of the killer and the attempts to misdirect the audience about it.
Both the early publicity for Lantern’s Lane and its IMDB page classify it as a comedy as well as horror. But none of this is actually funny. If the script was trotting out all these overused tropes and skewering them that would be one thing. But if that’s what the LaReau was going for he fails even worse than he did at being scary. Some of the insults may get a chuckle but they’re mostly annoyingly passive-aggressive rather than amusingly nasty.
Nicely shot but low on scares, effects and kills, Lantern’s Lane also relies on one of the most incredibly stupid decisions in recent memory to reach its conclusion. But by that point, most viewers will either have turned it off or mentally tuned it out. There aren’t even any unintentionally funny moments to break up the boredom
Vertical Entertainment released Lantern’s Lane in select US theatres and on VOD today, November 5th. It’s telling that neither their website or Facebook page mention it, apparently even they’re embarrassed by it.