14th October 2016 9.00pm at Prince Charles Cinema
16th October 2016 9.00pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
The gloomily peaceful shores of Lake Bodom, close to Helsinki, were once the setting for a real-life horror. In June of 1960, three teenagers were murdered here in a vicious manner. The killer has never been caught. These events, which have become truly legendary in Finland, serve as the starting point for director Taneli Mustonen’s wonderfully unsettling Lake Bodom.
Four teenagers in present day Finland make their way to the lake, in a story that starts off as a straightforward, not particularly playful reproduction of the standard young-people-in-peril scenario that has been played out in countless US horrors. It feels like something that has been seen so many times before, and simply being accompanied by Finnish subtitles fails to lend these early scenes any sense of originality. Additional layers to the story are organically revealed, which quickly and efficiently adds a level of morbid intrigue. Revelations are unveiled in a somewhat subdued fashion, although some are perhaps not as shocking as they were intended to be. This structure is extremely effective, and gives the film an almost episodic feel. There are no M Night Shyamalan lazy, overt twists here.
The culmination of these revelations results in something unexpected and creepily satisfactory (for the most part). The four young leads deliver naturalistic performances that give texture to their characters, elevating them beyond the horror film tropes that they are (initially) presented as – although Mikael Gabriel’s Elias is suspiciously heavily tattooed for a high school student. Nelly Hirst-Gee stands out as Ida, the religious girl with an inner darkness, and Mimosa Willamo impresses in later scenes when her character is granted greater depth (which had been irritatingly lacking up until that point).
Mustonen’s film is skillfully stylish, with each frame being artfully composed. The fictionalised events of Lake Bodom acknowledge the real-life tragedy of 1960 without exploiting it, resulting in an enjoyably disconcerting cinematic experience.
Lake Bodom does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Lake Bodom here: