Director: Taneli Mustonen
Cast: Nelly Hirst-Gee, Mimosa William, Mikael Gabriel
Watch Lake Bodom online in the UK: Shudder UK
What fascinating creatures human beings are when it comes to death. We create fictional stories within which we can encounter it, then, when it does occur in real life, we turn it into sensationalised news stories that pore over every fact. Years later, those deaths that never get solved are the subject of true crime series, served up with a morbid curiosity and an even closer attention to detail. And, years after that, documentaries such as Casting JonBenet come along and deconstruct our own obsession with the whole thing. Enter Lake Bodom, a horror movie based on real life events that does something else entirely.
It was in 1960 that the Finnish lake became part of its country’s darker history, after a group of teenagers were stabbed to death while sleeping in a tent on its shores. Today, what happened that night remains an unsolved mystery, one that has been passed down as a camp fire story from one generation to the next. It’s this gruesomely tall tale that brings Atte (Santeri Helinheimo Mantyla) to those infamous waters, as he hopes to recreate that night and crack the puzzle. Into that quest he drags his unlikely friend, Elias (Mikael Gabriel), with Ida (Nelly Hirst-Gee) tagging along to escape her domestic life and Nora (Mimosa Willamo) tagging along to spend more time with Ida.
It’s not long until the dead bodies begin to pile up, but Taneli Mustonen and Aleksi Hyvärinen’s script isn’t interested in merely retreading old ground. Our teenagers do split up, and they do go to the bathroom, but this isn’t your typical cabin-in-the-woods affair. That’s mainly because we don’t quite know who’s bumping them all off. Is it simply history happening again? The original killer, after all, is still out there and has never been caught. Is it someone in the group taking things too far? In real life, the sole survivor of the Bodom massacre was eventually arrested decades later, although he was then found not guilty. Or is it someone, or something, else altogether?
Director Taneli Mustonen throws us into that limbo between fact and fiction with a knowing glee, throwing out what appear to explanations before undermining them with fresh discoveries – it’s a 50-year-old cold case examination compressed into a 90-minute rush of shocks, slashes and spilled blood. The result is more Wolf Creek than Blair Witch, a playful forest thriller that’s post-modern but never too self-aware to be scary. There’s a more timeless quality to its trashy stylings, which stroll through Brian DePalm’s high school corridors of old while tapping into modern fears of privacy and body-shaming. Played with a straight face by the game cast, it’s not always logical and stock full of cliched characters, but it’s also that rare thing: genuinely unpredictable. An urban legend about urban legends, and how much people buy into them, Lake Bodom is a cracking addition to the slasher genre, and a suspenseful, surprising ride.
Lake Bodom is available to watch online exclusively on Shudder UK, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription, or £49.99 yearly membership.
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