Landing Lake gave me a whole new appreciation for Cloud Atlas. Yeah, I fully realize how crazy that sounds.
The Wachowski Sisters might have made a garbled, nearly incomprehensible and goofy film for half of its overlong run time, but there were some decent scenes, strong performances and breathtaking effects to somewhat balance out the mess. From its obnoxiously long opening credits to its final scene, Landing Lake is a test of endurance and frustration that the viewer is guaranteed to fail.
A team of satellite technicians are dispatched to the woods to fix a communication station, but their repair job turns into a rescue operation when a small plane crashes in the distance. The small group quickly realizes something is definitely not right in the woods.
Apparently there’s a force field keeping them trapped, some distorted voices threatening them at various points, time jumps and oh yeah, a tribe of warriors trying to kill them. And the woods also starts tapping into their baser instincts so aggressive characters get more aggressive, there’s essentially a lesbian rape scene and characters randomly turn into monsters because why not?
Only technician Georgie (Victoire Vecchierini) seems to have the vaguest clue of what’s going on, but can anyone truly make sense of a movie where literally anything can happen?
Debuting Director/Writer Cesare P. Libardi di K. doesn’t have a good sense of establishing characters or a sensible plot. Most of the characters are poorly developed and those that get the most screen time quickly prove to be annoying seemingly for the sake of being annoying. The tech team has their grouchy member Mike (Lee Ravitz) who’s only redeeming value is he’s not as obnoxious as Jack (Phil Zimmerman).
Typically in these kinds of films there’s at least one character to root for and the closest Landing Lake has is passenger Matt (Aaron Stielstra), who is basically the one normal guy. And at least the lone black guy (Franck Assi) isn’t the first one killed. The performances range from spotty to weak with none of the actors providing credible takes on their characters.
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Libardi di K. doesn’t seem interested in sticking with any kind of logic as the characters’ personalities flip on a dime depending on what he wants for that specific scene. One moment Georgie is perfectly sane and the next she’s having visions of her crew dying mysteriously in the woods. Eventually those visions start coming true and Libardi di K. enthusiastically plays out the deaths that ranger from melting bodies to smashed in heads.
The cinematography is also problematic as the day for night shooting technique looks bad with so much detail washed out and the overall murkiness makes it hard to see what’s going on far too often. There’s so much working against the film that indecipherable scenes just add to the frustration.
This wouldn’t come off so bad if Libardi di K. wasn’t so spastic with his editing, which doesn’t do any favors of making the film easier to follow. At some point it just becomes easier to stop trying to make sense of anything and just wonder how far off the rails this is going to go. And that’s pretty low.
Maybe there’s an audience for this style of overloading the audience’s senses until they roll with anything, but for me this was one of the longest slogs through a film I’ve experienced in a long time.