Sink or Swim?: LAKE BODON (2017) Review

The film begins with a telling of the events that happened at the real Lake Bodom in1960. A group of friends went on a camping trip and three of the four friends were brutally murdered by an unknown person. There was one survivor. Much speculation came about as to who did it, and the killer remains at large. Teenager Atte (Santeri Helinheimo Mantyla) has an obsession with the murders and has his own “theory”. So he, along with his rebel friend Elias (Mikael Gabriel), and classmates Ida (Nelly Hirst-Gee) who is still affected by a photo scandal at school, and Ida’s best friend Nora (Mimosa Willamo) to go join him for a camping trip. Where do they go? Lake Bodom of course. Atte believes that by setting themselves up to appear like the original victims, the killer will show up. Naturally things go really bad.

I actually had some high hopes for this horror film from Finland. It’s been too long since we had a good old-fashioned slasher, and the concept sounded really intriguing. And during the first act I was really enjoying it, even if things were moving a bit too quick. I should have taken that as some kind of sign. Halfway through the movie it takes a massive detour. From what should have been a fun slasher film it diverts into a revenge film. At first I thought this was just a small twist in the story, but it focused on this aspect way too much. And in all honesty, it just made it come off as some weird teen drama that didn’t make much sense. Granted it didn’t help that the translations in the subtitled version I saw were horrible. But even then, they spent way too much time on this. But then, we get another diversion, it suddenly goes into territory of becoming Wolf Creek in the woods. So it does go back to horror, but this last act just feels lifeless, and I really blame the middle section prior to this. So by the time this happens I just lost any care about the characters and what was happening. There was simply no build up or suspense to this act to redeem it either. Despite the problems with the script, I absolutely loved the cinematography, everything was filmed so beautifully. I admit some might think it looks too glossy, but honestly, I’ve never had an issue with that. The acting by small cast wasn’t good or bad, it definitely could have been amped a bit, but it was serviceable for the most part.

I really wanted to like this film, and it was so promising in the first act, but once the mid-point twist/diversion happens, it kind of runs the rest of the film right into the ground, even when it goes back to the horror, it feels too little too late. This is disappointing because, had the whole revenge/middle point been cut and focused more on the initial story, this could have been a really fun and great slasher. I still recommend it, but don’t go in expecting a full blown slasher.

–Cody Landman