The Lake of Death Awaits!
Lillian (Iben Akerlie) returns to her old family cabin out in the middle of nowhere with a group of very close friends. It’s the first time she’s been back in over a year. Her fraternal twin Bjorn (Patrick Walshe McBride) went missing, vanished without a trace, while living out here in the cabin. Lillian could not bring herself to come back out because of the painful memories of missing her brother, but now she is going to sell the property and her and her friends are coming out to give it a proper goodbye. The cabin sits right next to a big, beautiful lake that is supposedly haunted by some sort of strange spirit. Folk tales are told about this lake, about how it harbors a monster, and about a man who killed his family nearby and then drowned himself in the lake. It’s all properly uncanny, and everyone is having a good time, except Lillian is starting to see things during the waking hours of the day—odd, strange things—and she’s started sleepwalking at night. Her friends are concerned, and so is she, but they chalk it all up to stress. Until one morning they wake to find breakfast set for them all, with one extra setting, and no one will admit to doing it. And then one of them almost drowns, and then their cell phones disappear…Something or someone is stalking the group. Is it the monster from the lake, the spirit of the murderer, or something else?
It’s funny to me because movies like this, if they were made in America, would get pretty short shrift from me. The story is pretty typical for a horror thriller, and what happens unfolds just like any other Hollywood plot. But when you make it in Norway and it’s a Norwegian cast and crew and production, things change. I don’t know why that is, exactly. This is basically a mystery/slasher (sort of) that goes by the numbers and doesn’t do anything new or revolutionary, but the foreign characters and setting more than make up for this. First off, the lake and surrounding areas are beautiful. The actors are charming as hell in this, and with all the horror movie in-jokes, how could I not be pleased? The director (Nini Bull Robsahm) composes some gorgeous shots and keeps the action moving. In the end, this film doesn’t really do much to deserve a lot of praise or recommendation, except it is an old story told from a totally different cultural perspective. And that, to me, is more than enough to recommend this one.
Lake of Death is populated with great characters and terrific actors and the scenery alone is worth the price of admission. The spooky parts work like they’re supposed to, and even when a group of characters do something stupid (they always do something stupid in these situations) like deciding to get high and dance to some Blue Oyster Cult (nothing wrong with that, except they may be being stalked by a ghost or a deranged killer and maybe you should be on point instead of partying?), you forgive them. In fact, it’s rather charming to see that Norwegians do dumb things in horror movies, just like Americans. This film is the horror movie equivalent of sitting by a nice fire on a cool night while drinking a glass of wine; nothing particularly outstanding about it, but my, it sure does feel good.