J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, May 19, 2017

SIFF ’17: Lake Bodom

This picturesque locale is sort of like a Finnish Wolf Creek. In 1960, three teenagers were brutally murdered on the shores of the idyllic looking camping spot. Several people have been suspected of the murder, including the sole survivor and a possible KGB agent, but nobody has been convicted of the crimes. That means the killer is still out there. In light of that fact, perhaps it is slightly unwise for four teens to sneak out there as part of an ill-conceived plan to recreate the murders in Taneli Mustonen’s Lake Bodom (trailer here), which screens during the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival.

Atte is exactly the sort of serial killer obsessive teen weirdo Jamie Kennedy satirized in the Scream franchise. In contrast, his sort of pal Elias just likes girls. Of course, that is reason enough for them to convince Nora and Ida to come with them on a camping trip to Lake Bodom. Frankly, Ida could use a break from her parents and the other kids at school. Recently she fell victim to a roofie that led to naked pictures posted on the internet. This will be her first time out of her ultra-fundie house since the incident. Could be the last time too.

Naturally, just as the irresponsible teens turn in for the night, they start hearing suspicious noises outside the tent. Obviously, the best course of action is for one or two of them to walk off on their own to investigate. As it happens, there is a decidedly devious twist midway through the film. That also means it is pretty easy to guess what will be the next shoe to drop after that, but Mustonen clearly understands viewers are primed for it.

All things considered, Lake Bodom is quite a lethally effective slasher film. Mustonen is not slavishly obsessed with the 1960 case, but he and co-screenwriter Aleksi Hyvärien incorporate clever parallels. Also, Mimosa Willamo and Mikael Gabriel are both far better than your average slasher fodder as Nora and Elias, respectively.

So, judging from their recent national horror movie export product, Finnish teens as represented by Lake Bodom are just as messed up as Swedish teens represented by Alena and American teens represented by Devil’s Domain. In each film, the internet is not doing them any favors. Undeniably brutal at times, but considerably smarter than the industry standard, Lake Bodom is recommended for serial killer horror movie fans when it screens tonight (5/19) and Sunday (5/21) as part of this year’s SIFF.

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