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Home | Film Review: The Lake on Clinton Road (2015)

Film Review: The Lake on Clinton Road (2015)


When six friends from Massachusetts travel to the jersey shore, they end up on Clinton road at a house on a lake. They’re not alone, one by one they disappear, who will survive.


So…”based on true events”. God I hate seeing that in the title sequence. However, in this case it’s sort of true.

Clinton Road is roughly ten miles of nothing in West Milford, New Jersey. It has been featured on Travel Channel and in the book WEIRD NJ, and is said to be one of the most terrifying places in America. Writer/director DeShon Hardy was born and raised in Neptune, New Jersey. I imagine growing up there, he became very familiar with all the ghoulish tales of ghosts and monsters. His film manages to incorporate elements of the various stories told about Clinton Road. This film is based mainly on two urban legends concerning this god-forsaken stretch of nothing.

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First is the story of The Ghost Boy. The origin of the tale varies, as these things tend to do, but ultimately the boy drowns in a river underneath a bridge at the ominously-named Dead Man’s Curve. The legend says that if you throw coins in the water, the boy will bring them back.

The second is The Black Truck. Not sure of the origin of this story either, but the story goes that headlights appear out of nowhere and chase people driving down the road and eventually just disappear.

There are also tales of Satanists and the Klu Klux Klan and ghost dogs and all sorts of strange goings-on. New Jersey loves their folklore. We’ve all heard of the Jersey Devil who stalks the Pinelands, right? Look it up sometime. There’s some crazy stuff out there.

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The film opens with Jillian(Leah Jones) and Alex (Richard Ryker) getting ready for a big party weekend at a beach house Jillian has rented to celebrate Alex’s birthday. They are watching a video (on youtube or something, I suppose) from a police station showing a woman being interrogated for allegedy murdering her son. Good way to start a party weekend, I suppose.

Anyway, their friends show up and pile all their stuff into one vehicle, heading out on a booze-filled drive to the beach house. They think they are headed for the Jersey Shore, but instead they end up at this pretty cool house by a lake….down Clinton Road.

It’s not so bad at first. They brought a lot of liquor and have a bonfire and generally have some good, clean fun. Jillian decides to go night swimming, and once in the lake she starts to feel sick. She also loses a necklace that she never takes off, and gets a bit upset over that.

The party breaks up for the night and in the morning they resume their revelry. Everyone but Jillian, that is. She begins to act very strange, and when she finds a box of old photographs in her wanderings through the house, she really starts to lose it. Things just get weirder from there, and the friends start to realize this party may not end well for all of them.

There’s a lot going on in the movie – all sorts of subtle nods to the region and the legends it fosters. If you are from the Garden State, you will catch a lot of stuff that others won’t notice. It’s a love song to the great state of New Jersey as much as it is a horror film, just like an indie horror shot in your homestate should be.

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It did feel like a few minutes could have been shaved off here and there, and perhaps a little less time spent focusing on the party stuff and getting on with the ghost story. And if you’re hoping for some sort of exposition about what exactly happened here, you will be disappointed. But you know…some mysteries don’t need to be solved. Just enjoy the ride.

Oh, and stay through the credits for a fun button to the whole adventure.

So on a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome, I’m giving this film 7 beers.

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