Hoping for a therapeutic time at a remote lakeside cabin, a group of friends find their weekend taking an unexpected dark turn. Written and directed by Nini Bull Robsahm, Lake of Death is a Norwegian horror film and a remake of 1958’s De dødes tjern. With an atmospheric style and engaging premise, the film sadly can’t help but buckle under its uninspired story and inability to deliver in the end.
After her twin brother’s passing the year before, Lillian (Iben Akerlie) and a group of her close friends travel back to the same cabin for what hopes to be a healing experience for her. Having taken his death extremely hard, her friends think this is what’s needed for her to move towards acceptance and healing.
As they settle in for the weekend, Lillian can’t help but feel an unease about the place. Given what happened there, it’s understandable. However, things quickly take a strange turn as the group wakes up to an amazing breakfast spread, that no one claims to have made. More subtle things continue to transpire and the group grows suspicious that someone is watching them.
Since the film is a remake the familiar setting of a “cabin in the woods”, and its formulaic plot, is somewhat forgivable. What Lake of Death fails to do is improve on that, missing the opportunity to take the redundant story towards something uniquely its own. Now, Robsahm certainly captures an eerie mood with the rural Norwegian landscape, perhaps it’s only real redeeming quality. There were also enough moments that just scrapped by in pulling my attention and curiosity, which had me crossing my fingers for a solid final act; but that didn’t happen.
The film did well with its small budget in terms of aesthetics, but the script needed a lot of polishing and the weird, uneventful climax and ending needed to be reworked entirely. There are so many moments in the film that are easy to nitpick, that they simply confound the viewer. They may seem petty to critique, but it’s just baffling. Why does Lillian wash the sheets in the middle of the weekend, hanging to dry outside during poor weather? Why is our protagonist always running around barefoot in a nightgown? Honestly, why would you even take your friend to the same location that her brother died?
You can tell things are calculated to create a “mood”, but they just feel disjointed and unnecessary. It seems more time was spent to hone in on the look of the film, rather than a concise storyline. I’m not one for spoiling films, but I will say that the end reveal is not fulfilling whatsoever. There are a few moments where its slow burn story offers some tense scenes, but sadly, it’s a rather forgetful film overall.
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