Lost Lake (2003)

I will admit that I have trouble deciding what to review here. I want to find the right balance between the extremes of “no one has ever seen this movie” and “everyone has seen this movie.” I don’t always do that well, as is the case with today’s film, Lost Lake, which has only one watch on Letterboxed: my own (this is also the case for A Windigo Tale, a story of the trauma residential schools do, which is… sadly always relevant). No one has heard of this movie! Why should I take the time to talk about it? Well, how else are people going to learn about the sheer madness that is the alternate–and true–ending of this film?

Lost Lake–called Peak Experience on IMDB for some reason–opens with a sex scene followed by a group of people getting trapped by an avalanche at a ski lodge. We cut back to a week earlier, where world traveler Kat quits her barista job to accept a job at the lodge. She meets an aged hippie named EZ who mistakes her for a woman named… Gypsy. Classy. Also at the lodge are two half-brothers with a beef against each other and a professor with his latest assistant/sexual conquest. The next hour is spent with the characters, showing them get together, fall apart, and sometimes pee on someone’s butt. Yes, there is context for that last bit, and no, I will not give it to you. While this is happening, Kat keeps experiencing visions of a previous life where she actually was Gypsy, girlfriend to both EZ and the dad of one of the brothers. Right around the time you forget about the avalanche, we finally catch up to the beginning of the film. EZ is missing and presumed dead, and the rest are facing grim survival prospects. Kat finds a report about Gypsy’s death and it turns out most of the people at the lodge now are reincarnations of people who died way back then, complete with Kat hugging a woman her own age realizing that she was once her daughter. Then they’re rescued. The end.

Um… wait, what? What was the point of all this past life stuff? Or EZ’s little Ferris wheel with everyone’s pictures on it? For that matter, what was the point of the professor? He frequents the lodge with whatever sexual partner he has and has a theory of everything that says everything is made of… sparticles? I distinctly hear an “s” at the beginning of that word each time it’s said, so sure, sparticles. Anyway, he stole the theory from a stoner and… okay, sure. But why? Why show any of this? Why take the time to show how all these characters interact if it doesn’t lead to anything? Why does this feel like there’s an alternate ending that explains everything?

Well there is! Sort of. There is an alternate ending that I truly believe was the intended ending and it does tie all these plot threads together, but it’s pure craziness. Instead of being rescued, the survivors find themselves in a realm made of sparticles and bad CG. EZ is there, acting as a–and I quote from the commentary track–“otherworldly carnival barkman.” Did you mean “barker?” I think you meant carnival barker. Anyway, they’re all dead but find out that life is just a ride, like on a cosmic Ferris wheel. They even see a cosmic Ferris wheel. Now that the ride is over they get to decide what ride to go on next: Heaven, Hell, or something even stranger. The professor skips off by himself, leaving the two couples to pick a new life together.

…well then.

Like, sure, that does tie a bunch of stuff together, but you ended a boring slice of life movie with a green screen world of glitter and whimsical music. And to that I say… good job, actually. If this was just yet another dull erotic drama I would have forgotten about it by the next day. But this movie ends in such a batshit way that it stuck in my head for years. A+ for that! The story and characters and everything else fails, but still.

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