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‘Lake of Death’ review: Norwegian horror movie adds mystery to familiar premise

‘Lake of Death’ wears its influences on its sleeve.

Lake of Death wears its influences on its sleeve. Yes, it is an adaptation of a novel, but there is more. A group of friends decide they are going to spend some time at a cabin in the woods. Behind it is a supposedly haunted lake. Soon, strange things start happening. But is it truly supernatural?

The movie centers on Lillian who is returning to her family cabin a year after her twin brother vanishes at the lake. Quickly, Lake of Death has the audience asking whether she should have come back. She is obviously still struggling with what happened.

This sets up another trope of the genre; what is real and what is imagined? Lake of Death does a better job of many similar films in building its story. The premise and characters may be cliche but the story remains engaging.

Director Nini Bull Robsahm is clearly a horror fan – there are references to Misery and A Nightmare on Elm Street – which does lead to some predictability. The normal jump scares and pranks are to be found, for example. These moments are as effective as can be expected.

The scenery is gorgeous. Most cabin in the woods stories fail to take advantage of their setting. Lake of Death uses its natural surroundings to the full extent. Not only does the movie look beautiful, the location feeds into the mood.

Lake of Death takes its audience on a ride before showing its hand. There are the natural red herrings but the plot also includes some nice twists. Nothing is obvious or rushed adding to the movie’s tension. The film is as much a mystery as it is a horror. 

'Lake of Death' review: Norwegian horror movie adds mystery to familiar premise

With this type of movie, the ending is incredibly important. The story’s mystery and horror aspects demand a resolution. Since Lake of Death dips in toes in both genres, there was always going to be the risk of turning some members of the audience off. In this case, the ending may be especially unsatisfying for many.

Lake of Death takes audiences to a very familiar place. The cabin in the woods motif is a popular one. It may not provide much in the way of originality, but it can be incredibly fun when done right. Lake of Death is an interesting entry into the genre, but a frustrating ending may ruin the enjoyment for some.

Lake of Death premieres July 16 on Shudder

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