To say that Lake Bodom’s scenic atmosphere and somber tone intrigued me from the start would be a gross understatement. My expectations were about as high as they get. After all, of the many horror flicks that trot out the “based on a true story” tagline, this one actually means it. Here’s a little background: On June 5, 1960, four teenagers were attacked while camping at the lakeshore. Three of them were stabbed to death, and the fourth was left wounded. There have been a few suspects over the years, but there has never been enough evidence to secure a conviction. The murderer(s) have never been caught, and the case is still very much open and under semi-active investigation.

The terror of the true story is ever-present; making Lake Bodom a nail-biting rollercoaster ride of a film.

The film, which takes place in present time, follows teenagers Atte and Elias, who are eager to recreate the murders that occurred at lake Bodom in order to test out a theory. To fulfill their hypothesis, the boys need two female candidates. Having motives of their own, Ida and Nora join the two in their endeavor. However, while camping at the restricted murder site, the four of them begin sensing a lack of seclusion and solitude. But are Atte’s theories being proven correct, or is someone playing tricks on these teenagers?

This is not only director Taneli Mustonen and writer Aleksi Hyvarinen first genre film, but it’s also the first Finnish horror movie in ten years. Mustonen does an excellent job behind the lens and captures the elegance of nature and the darkness that lies in the thick foliage beautifully. The use of light and color is woven effortlessly throughout the film in ways that create a plethora of visually pleasing shots–especially in one truly breathtaking underwater scene.

The frightening sense of realism will put you on edge.

Hyvarinen takes an interesting approach with his storytelling by not directly retelling the true story, but by taking inspiration from it and creating a story of his own. There are few sharp turns, but it never loses focus. Right when you suspect that things are beginning to settle, the story takes a surprising turn and offers viewers more than what they bargained for. The frightening sense of realism will put you on edge. Take Friday the 13th, and then throw away all of the elements that dehumanize Jason, and you’ll get Lake Bodom.

I typically try to judge acting and line delivery based on region, but as mentioned by the director, you aren’t given many choices when you live in a country with a population of 5.4 million. Given the scarce resources, the crew still did a fantastic job of finding a group of four talented actors with great set chemistry.

While Lake Bodom didn’t exceed my expectations, it certainly met them. The terror of the true story is ever-present; making Lake Bodom a nail-biting rollercoaster ride of a film. If your’re in Finland, you can watch this one at this very moment. For those of you in New Zealand, a December 3rd release has been set. We’ll keep you guys in the loop for details regarding an official U.S. release date. 

Lake Bodom screened at the 2016 LA Screamfest.

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