Monday, July 13, 2020

Lake of Death / De Dødes Tjern - Movie Review

The Movie: Lake of Death / De Dødes Tjern

The Director: Nini Bull Robsahm

The Cast: Iben Akerlie, Jacob Andersen Schøyen, Jonathan Harboe, Sophia Lie, Elias Mun

The Story: Lillan and some friends travel back to the remote cabin by the little lake, where her twin brother died last year, and soon after arriving strange things starts happening.

The Review:
This film is based off of a 1940's novel and subsequent movie all of the same name which kicked off a horror movement in Norway and seems to have also been the genesis of what has become a cabin in the woods sub category including classics like Evil Dead and The Cabin in the Woods. There were several moments watching the movie where I would think okay that's where they got that idea which made it a more enjoyable experience overall. That being said, the familiar material doesn't take away from director Nini Bull Robsahm's take on the material, quite the opposite, I loved how she used things we already know and reshapes them a bit here and there to keep them fresh.

One thing that stuck out to me about this movie is how beautiful the cinematography is with credit going to Axel Mustad along with the director. The movie is full of wide sweeping shots of the lake and surrounding mountains, all of it just breathtaking and then there's other shots like one featuring the main character Lillian, played by Iben Akerlie, that sees her going off of a dock and into the lake in a way that seems pulled from a lushly animated fairy tale or anime movie. I thought the visual aspect of the story telling was superior to anything else in the movie, the whole thing was just so beautiful to look at.

Outside of that, the movie is pretty straight forward and unexpectedly tame when it comes to elements of horror like shocks, scares, blood and guts. Bloody scenes are replaced by a creepy black ooze that represents possible paranormal activity and violent scenes are edited to fit a PG-13 sensibility. Nothing wrong with any of this, just a note for people who might be expecting something a little more violent or gory. For me, the tension and suspense was more than enough to make this an enjoyable movie.

The Verdict:
Lake of Death is a worthy entry into Norway's storied horror tradition as well as another step forward for women directors within the genre. This has been an amazing year for horror so far and I just love seeing so many different creators adding their voice to rich and diverse field.

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