Impressions: Lake Bodom

Lake Bodom (or Bodom) is a 2016 Finnish horror film. I knew very little about it going in, other than it made several people’s best lesser-known and people’s best foreign horror movies. I also thought it might be a nice flick for me since I have been on a bit of a True Crime kick and this movie is, somewhat related.

The movie opens with a few details about the murders that took place at Lake Bodom during the 1960s. It also discusses how the open case has inspired many legends and explanations. We then follow four teens as they go out to the murder site to do a reconstruction and try to solve the mystery. Since this is a horror movie, something goes wrong.

Lake Bodom for me is an excellent example of a movie that is close but doesn’t exactly make it. The movie relies mostly on suspense and a slow build, which it does manage to be unsettling at times with a few pretty impactful scenes. However, none of the scenes land as well as they should because a lot of the surrounding moments are a hair too slow and throw off the pacing.

The acting is decent, but the characters themselves aren’t well fleshed out. There are a lot of twists and turns in the story, some of them rather interesting. However, the story is fairly predictable, so once again, nothing lands as it should. Moments that I knew were supposed to shock me felt more like “there it is.” It experiments a lot with style and tone, shifting in the ways it gets the message across at various points. This leads to some great moments, as well as several that don’t work nearly as well.

Still, it’s not a bad movie. The location and the idea is unsettling. The movie refers to the real case without overdoing it like American “based on a true story” horror flicks can do. It has some incredible shots and also some fresh twists on horror scenes. Instead of building up to a dramatic chase scene, we build up to an equally exciting car scene, for instance. Also, the ending is pretty awesome, and it makes for an interesting “sandwich” of a movie. It starts telling us about legends that happened as a result of the Lake Bodom murders and ends with the idea of legends happening around the events of the movie.

Ultimately what hurts the movie is that it just lacks in fear and doesn’t have enough of a punch in other forms of entertainment to fully make up for it.

In the end, I find myself with little to say because the experience didn’t land for me as it did for others. It is worth a watch, if for no other reason than some of the outstanding cinematography. It also has several great moments that are worth experiencing. Just everything bridging those great moments for me felt… flat. There is nothing bad exactly, but I would have liked a little more.

I do think that overall, this is a movie that genre fans should see. I would also like to see what else the director might bring to us in the future. There were some really worthwhile things happening in this movie, so I wish the overall experience had lived up to that. Still, I can understand why it is recommended because while it had the potential to be more, that doesn’t make what it was a bad thing.

Honestly, I wish I could say more, but without giving a lot of spoilers or breaking down individual scenes, I just don’t have more to say. Give a watch if you haven’t, only maybe with slightly lower expectations.

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