17th Jul2020

‘Lake of Death’ Review (Shudder)

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Patrick Walshe McBride, Ulric von der Esch, Iben Akerlie, Elias Munk, Jonathan Harboe, Sophia Lie, Jakob Schøyen Andersen | Written and Directed by Nini Bull Robsahm

You might not think ‘horror’ if asked about Norwegian cinema but the small European country has produced a few crackers including the Dead Snow movies (we need a third one of those!), the fantastic and original Trollhunter and the excellent Thelma. So Lake of Death is in good company even if it goes down the more traditional sub genre of horror, the slasher.

In Lake of Death we join Lillian a year after her brother has mysteriously died. With her friends she is staying in the family cabin next to a lake. Someone or something is stalking them and Lillian’s mind is making her see some unusual things.

It is a pretty standard horror setting. Cabin in the woods – tick! Group of young adults – tick! Myths and legends about the place they are staying – tick! But don’t let that put you off. As with any genre, just because you are treading the same path as previous movies, doesn’t mean you can’t make a good movie. There’s a few ‘twists’ to make this a little different.

To start with Lake of Death has that Nordic (almost) noir style running through it. Even if it is not overly deliberate, being made in that part of the world makes it feel that little bit different. If your familiar with it, and enjoy, you’ll know doubt get a kick out of it here. While if it is new to you, it at least sets it apart a small amount from other films you would have seen. Also,with Lillian losing her mind, we see her visions,that although are never made to look real, do add something to the story and it plays its part right up into the closing scene.

Shot in 35mm, the movie looks fantastic and the film-makers also bought in Academy Award-winner Bob Murawski (Army of Darkness, Drag Me To Hell) to edit and it shows. There’s one great-looking underwater scene and the cinematography mixed with this continuous dark tones – despite being a ‘summer’ movie, really look great.

The director is clearly a horror movie fan too. As well as getting Murawski on board, he also throws in references to classics such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th and more. They’re nods of appreciation rather than in-your-face copy cat moments and are a nice touch.

The young cast are enjoyable. They seem to have good chemistry and it’s easy to believe they are all friends hanging out. Even overcoming the odd bad moment in the script. The last twenty minutes or so go in a more typical slasher direction and you’ll win no prizes for guessing who the killer is but that doesn’t take away any enjoyment from the movie. When it becomes much more of a slasher, it’s at its most fun.

Personally I would have liked much more in the way of on screens deaths, but if a Nordic thriller mixed with a modern slasher seems like your thing then check out Lake of Death.

*** 3/5

Lake of Death is available to watch on Shudder now.


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