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‘The Winter Lake’ review: Dreary thriller filled with atmosphere

Depressing and engaging.

The Winter Lake is a thoroughly depressing movie. It is grey, cold, and each scene is an exercise in futility. Elaine (Charlie Murphy) and her son Tom (Anson) have relocated from the United Kingdom to the Irish countryside. They meet the father-daughter tandem of Ward (Michael McElhatton) and Holly (Emma Mackey). It sounds like the start of a wacky romantic comedy. Instead, it becomes something much more sinister.

Along with being consistently gloomy, the film is filled with tension. There is a constant sense that something is going to go horribly wrong. The conversations are pointed and filled with anger. As The Winter Lake often reminds its audience, the area is a very dangerous place.

The performances are very important in a setting this dreary. Any story runs the risk of alienating its audience if it is too depressing. One of the ways to prevent this from happening are engaging characters. The four main characters in The Winter Lake do an excellent job.

The film moves at a methodical pace – especially during the first act. The story does a great job of introducing its characters and world before heading into the rising action. Once Holly makes a shocking discovery, The Winter Lake takes an even darker turn. It is also at this point that things become a little more predictable.

Familiarity is not necessarily a bad thing – especially in horror. The Winter Lake is more about atmospheric chills than shocking twists and turns.  Still, there it is hard to shake the feeling that impressive acting saves a pedestrian script.

The Winter Lake is is select theaters March 5, on demand on March 9, and on DVD March 23

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