DIRECTOR: Taneli Mustonen
Santeri Helinheimo Mantyla
In 1960, three campers were found dead in their tents while camping on Lake Bodom. They were found stabbed to death and brutally murdered in their tents. Based on real unsolved murders, four friends decide to head to Lake Bodom to try and recreate that night to see if they can solve the murders. Little do they realise that the original killer may still be alive and be hunting Lake Bodom for more victims.
For anyone who reads my little website or follows the Schlock Horror Twitter account, knows that I'm a huge fan of true crime. Going into Lake Bodom, I wasn't aware that this movie was actually based on a real unsolved murder case that happened in Lake Bodom in Finland in 1960. I went into this one expecting a foreign slasher film. I may have truly underestimated this one thinking it would be nothing more or nothing less than your run of the mill slasher. Boy, was I wrong about Lake Bodom.
Lake Bodom has the honour of being a pretty entertaining and dark little slasher film. One of the most original to come out of the last decade if I don't say so myself. What it does first and foremost is that it subverts expectations. Taking those typical slasher tropes that we've all come to expect and ends up turning them on their head, offering the audience a couple of very clever surprise twists. The first being so surprising that I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me.
What I thought Lake Bodom did well in setting itself apart from other slasher films is that the entire setup has this meta sort of feel to it all. Being that the movie is based on a real-life unsolved crime. I liked that this group of teenagers goes to the original location and tries to re-enact the crimes to see if they can solve the case once and for all. It's only then do we head into the more familiar slasher elements. I thought it felt similar to The Town That Dreaded Sundown remake.
Where Lake Bodom will get the biggest complaints lobbed at it is for the end and the pacing. I think at times, Lake Bodom feels like it lags. When your movie is a short and sweet hour and twenty-four minutes. Any time that the story feels like it gets bogged down in exposition, you can feel it here. I think the several times that we actually get exposition, it kills some of the intensity. The choice to deliver these moments in times of chaos feels like a bit of an odd choice. That's not to say that this isn't successful as there is plenty of tension to be found here.
I also have to mention that the version of the movie that I saw had some of the most terrible subtitles that I've seen in a recent foreign film. I believed I had been supplied the Shudder version of the film. I'm not sure if Finnish doesn't translate to English as well as other languages, but there are times when the subtitles make no sense. Entire words or sentences seem to be completely missing. Is this just that Shudder version or was this lost in translation? It was very distracting.
Visually, I think Lake Bodom is gorgeous in a very dark and moody way. I think the movie looks fantastic. There are some beautiful shots of the locations of where the film is set. You would be hard pressed to film a movie in Finland or Estonia and have it come out looking terrible. There is just so much beauty and lush scenery that the director has captured on film perfectly. There is also one of the most spectacular car crashes committed to a horror film since the High Tension forest chase.
When it comes to the gore in the film. I read a lot of reviews for the film stating that this is brutal and extreme. I actually found the carnage to be restrained. While there is blood and violence in the movie. I think a lot of it is mostly implied and offscreen. As the movie builds towards the third act, it starts to get a little more gruesome, but it's a gradual build towards all of that bloodshed. I think the ending of this movie is where people will be left most shocked as this is not a very happy ending. This is as far as a happy Hollywood ending as you'll witness.
Lastly, I think the acting from the four leads is solid. I think the two leading actresses get the most to do within their roles. At first, all four characters begin as your typical horror high school kids. We have the party girl, the quiet girl, the horror nerd and the cool guy. The middle of the film is where shit hits the fan, things are reversed, and we get to see two of the four characters become something entirely different. This really was a blast to watch. The performances can't be disputed.
DEATH TOLL: 3
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Lots of shots of crime scene photos.
- A man is stabbed in the back.
- A man is repeatedly stabbed to death.
- A woman is stabbed to death in a tent.
- Two women are injured when their car flips.
- A woman is attacked by a dog.
- A woman's face hits a steering wheel.
- A woman is smacked in the face with a wrench.
Lake Bodom was a movie I had heard a lot of people praising before I got a chance to witness it. When I first saw the film's poster, I expected just your run of the mill, low budget slasher. I expected nothing more from it. I think my low expectations for the film may have yielded positive results. This is a clever, meta-filled and dark slasher. There is even a few nice surprise twists and some fantastic acting from our two lead actresses. Go in not knowing a thing and you should be pleasantly surprised.