Written by: Adam Vaughn | November 4th, 2021
Lantern’s Lane (Justin LaReau, 2021) 1½ out of 4 stars.
Right at the tail end of the Halloween season comes director Justin LaReau’s Lantern’s Lane, a very confused and insincere horror film about a group of friends who venture into an abandoned house only to find trouble waiting there. Sound familiar? That’s because Lantern’s Lane essentially rips off all types of conventional, clichéd horror tropes and spins them for 90 minutes. While the film is led by an extremely screen-savvy and decent cast, Lantern’s Lane has nothing to add, offer, or suggest to the horror genre beyond the same old same old that has been done more effectively before.
Lantern’s Lane follows Layla (Brooke Butler, The Fox Hunter), a college graduate returning to her hometown to meet up with childhood friends. As Layla is reacquainted with them, including bestie Missy (Ashley Doris, Revenge for Daddy), their guy friend Jason (Andy Cohen), and an estranged new member of the group, Shana (Sydney Carvill), they decide to visit the abandoned home on “Lantern’s Lane,” a former terror-filled location for the group. Arriving at the house, the friends soon realize they are being hunted by a masked killer, and struggle to survive the resulting slaughter.
Such is the generic premise of Lantern’s Lane, an easily identifiable slasher story that hits all the wrong notes of horror conventions. Not only is the film void of any new or surprising ideas, following the simple path of the genre and never deviating, but it also misses the mark on some of the most rudimentary elements of logic. Right off the bat, director LaReau (A Demon Within) wastes an entire exposition with filler dialogue and information dumping, practically telling the viewer all they need to know about every character in a painful 13-minute bar scene. From there, Lantern’s Lane continues to hit tedious notes as scene after scene includes an immense amount of pointless conversation.
On a production level, Lantern’s Lane isn’t necessarily the worst, with solid attention to cinematography and sound design. Yet no amount of decent technical merits can overshadow a script that never once leaves a good impression, and a story that screams “been there, done that” at every turn, with the only breaks in cliché some subpar plot twists and awkward humor. Sadly, this film won’t be one that makes Justin LaReau’s career, but with any luck, it won’t be the one to break it, either.