Thursday, 4 June 2020

Lake Bodom (2016) - Horror Film Review

Lake Bodom is a location that has appeared in many different horrors over the years. The place is infamous due to the brutal murder of three campers in the 1960's. There were many different theories as to who the killer was, but no one was ever charged. Confusingly, in Finland this was released under the title Bodom, which also happens to be the name of a Hungarian found footage horror from 2014 that has a very similar story (my review of that one can be found here). I have started watching horrors from Shudder on Sundays, this was my second pick after skipping the Sunday previously.

In 2016 four teenage friends head to Lake Bodom with various motivations for doing so. Nora (Mimosa Willamo) and Ida (Nelly Hirst-Gee) have been tricked into thinking there is going to be a cabin party there. In reality, Atte (Santeri Helinheimo Mantyla) has told them that so they would agree to go to the isolated lake with him and his best friend, Elias (Mikael Gabriel). Atte is obsessed with the 1960's murders that took place there and hopes he can get the girls to help him recreate the police crime scene photos, while Elias is hoping he can get lucky with one of them. However, nothing works out for any of the four teens, as their camping trip is rudely interrupted by a killer...

I had heard many good things about Lake Bodom over the years but had never gotten around to watching it. I did enjoy my time with it but it requires a huge suspension of disbelief. It isn't too long into the movie before the friends are camped out at the lake and so the horror begins relatively quickly. There are many curve balls thrown by this pretty generic beginning, and while I was surprised with where this went I didn't think it worked that well. Maybe one twist would have worked out well but we don't get that here, off the top of my head I think over the course of the movie there are six big twists. These twists all alter the perception of events and characters, but it almost (but not quite) becomes farcical with how much is changing constantly. If this had all fallen away to reveal a The Cabin in the Woods style resolution I don't think I would have been surprised.

This is a literally dark movie, the majority of it taking place in woods at night, but it is also figuratively dark. Feel good this is not, characters are made to suffer, and the make-up effects really help sell this suffering. I thought the blood in particular looked really good here. The young actors were all great in their roles, helped by a decent script, though the story itself, as mentioned I wasn't so hot on. To give meat to the bones of all this it is set against the sub plot of Ida having had nude photos of her spread around school in the recent past. This sub plot factors into a lot of the characters actions even if it does just seem to be there to give characters something to talk about. Some characters motivations I never did quite understand, and what actually occurs seemed a bit far fetched. Having teens visit the site of the real life killings from the 1960's was near identical to that other Bodom horror. The idea of having them then experience their own nightmarish recreation in the form of a new killer was a fun idea, but I just never felt much peril for them. The killer's look morphs over the course of the movie, initially an I Know What You Did Last Summer style raincoat, this changes to the third act, in which a lot of new ideas are added in unexpected ways.

Lake Bodom has a great soundtrack, solid acting, and the picture quality is strong. I appreciated the serious and bleak tone. Personally I didn't like how the story played out, what initially appeared grounded in realism turned into events that could only ever happen in a horror movie, I couldn't help but feel the suspense built up began to dissipate the more ridiculous the events got. I'm glad I finally got around to see this, it is a well made horror, but it didn't live up to my expectations. Lake Bodom is currently there to stream on Shudder.


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