Lake of Death (2019)
lake of death | nini bull robsahm | patrick walshe mcbride | iben akerlie | ulric von der esch | remake | drama | mystery | norway | jakob schoyen andersen | elias munk | jonathan harboe | sophia lie | vacation
Film: Lake of Death (De dødes tjern)
Director: Nini Bull Robsahm
Writer: Nini Bull Robsahm
Starring: Patrick Walshe McBride, Iben Akerlie and Ulric von der Esch
This was another of those movies that seemed to hit Shudder as part of a group of 2020 releases. Many of them were foreign, which I’m always glad to see since I like to be well rounded when making my year end list and just in general for the genre. I did know that this was inspired by a classic film from Norway and a sort of remake of that. The synopsis here is Lillian (Iben Akerlie) and some friends travel back to the remote cabin by the little lake, where her twin brother died last year. Soon after arriving, strange things start happening.
We start this with a couple in a boat. They are brother and sister, with the male being Bjørn (Patrick Walshe McBride) and his sister is Lillian. It appears that Bjørn is deaf and is speaking with sign language. She responds back and it appears their time is running short. Lillian is leaving soon with Kai (Ulric von der Esch) and this seems to bother her brother.
The movie then shifts us 1 year into the future. A group is going to the cabin that belongs to Bjørn and Lillian. The problem is that last year, after she left is appears that he disappeared. The assumption is that he killed himself. They never found the body so there’s a possibility it is in the lake. Lillian is finally going back and she wants the people that are coming with her as support. Some more information here is that they both came up in the foster system. This cabin is the only thing that was left to them from their real parents, so Bjørn dying really makes it hard for her to go back.
She isn’t going up alone as her friends are trying to help her get over the trauma. Her friend of Sonja (Sophia Lie) is going with her boyfriend Harald (Elias Munk). It appears that Lillian is now seeing Gabriel (Jonathan Harboe) who is joining along with another friend of Bernhard (Jakob Schøyen Andersen). He has a podcast and wants to do an episode on the lake they’re going to. There seems to some lore that is spooky surrounding it. On top of that, he has some solid horror movie references that he drops, but his friends don’t seem to appreciate them like I do.
As the synopsis states, some weird things start to happen once they get here. The story of the past involved Gruvik who killed his family. Lillian’s dog of Totto goes missing almost immediately. She is seeing these weird marks on her friends that seem to be spreading like a poison. Kai disappears as do their cellphones. The question then becomes, is there something supernatural going on here or is there another explanation?
That’s where I think I’ll leave my recap of this. What I will start off saying here is that I thought we had an interesting set up. There were quite a few characters, which I found to be intriguing. The back-story that we slowly learn about with Lillian and her brother of Bjørn also works for me. It is tragic as we learn that their go in foster care, much like many others, didn’t go well. There is some guilt there that Lillian is dealing with as she got adopted and left her brother, but I can’t entirely fault her.
The movie does well in establishing all of our characters where they are all distinct from each other. It also plays with something else that I liked in that they become distrustful pretty quickly. Bernhard is disliked at first, because they think he’s messing with him for the sake of his podcast. He also makes some inappropriate comments at times and just does things that rub the others the wrong way. Harald isn’t that much better. He comes off a bit standoffish and really targets Bernhard, making him a villain to me. What I like though is that it doesn’t take long for this distrust to grow amongst them as the tension builds.
I know this movie is based off a classic from the country of the same name. My problem is that the reveal wasn’t all that shocking to me. I do have to blame Shudder a bit here for the category they list the movie in as it gave away the ending to me. Even if that didn’t happen, it wasn’t as much of a shock as some movies that I’ve seen. It is just a troupe that we’ve seen before and it doesn’t really do anything to stand out. There is even a movie that has a similar reveal that was quite popular a few years ago. I like they establish that Lillian is having nightmares and that she’s unreliable for the things that she’s seeing. The including of folklore of the lake was something that worked for me, since that is something that really interests me to learn more about with foreign films. The problem again though, we’ve seen this quite a bit so you have to make yours stand out where I think this falters.
Where I think I should go next would be the acting. I will give credit here to the fact that everyone is pretty distinct and that is something that is needed when having a cast as large as we get here. McBride isn’t in this movie a lot, but what we learn about him from his performance and more from the back-story, it makes since for the character of Bjørn. Akerlie is different from him, but I like the unreliable character she plays. Esch is solid, but he’s another one that doesn’t get a lot of screen time. Harboe, Munk Andersen and Lie are all really good in building the tension at the cabin and again, being distinct characters.
The last thing that I’m going to go over would be the effects. We get some interesting ones for sure. There is some blood that looks solid to me. They also play with the idea of blood coming out of the sinks or at least a dark color substance that looks similar. That is interesting to play with as we don’t know if that is real or not. There is some CGI with things ‘growing’ on people or on walls. This is fine. We really don’t focus on it too much so that helps me. The cinematography I would also say is well done for what I could tell.
So now with that said, I thought there were some interesting things that we were getting here, but they are also things we’ve seen before. The setting is good with the backdrop of stories behind our lead and her missing brother. There is a bit of folklore that gets mixed in there as well. I would say the performances are good. The effects and how it was shot are fine. The soundtrack fit for what was needed as well. The movie is just lacking a bit of originality that really stuck with me unfortunately. It is just concepts playing out we’ve seen done better elsewhere. Overall I still enjoyed this, I’d rate it as just over average. Can’t recommend it to everyone and I’ll also warn you, this is from Norway. I watched it with subtitles on, if that’s a problem, I would avoid this one.
My Rating: 6 out of 10