New Horror Releases: Lake of Death (2019) - Reviewed

Iben Akerlie as Lillian (Shudder)

Based on Norway’s popular 1942 novel, and subsequent 1958 film, “De dødes tjern”, Nini Bull Robsahm's “Lake of Death” puts friends Bernhard, (Jakob Schøyen Anderson), Gabriel, (Jonathan Harboe), Sonja, (Sophie Lie), Harald (Elias Munk), and Lillian (Iben Akerlie), at the mercy of an alleged cursed lake when they visit a cabin to gain closure after the disappearance of Bjorn (Patrick Walshe McBride), Lillian’s twin brother. The cabin's lakefront is known for a legend surrounding multiple murders and creepy occurrences, so Bernhard, who is a paranormal podcaster, is along to get material for his show. Meanwhile, Lillian is sleepwalking, hallucinating, and just having a horrible time, while everyone else is having their own eerie near death experiences. 

This film starts out promising. Shot on 35mm at a cabin by the lake in the lush Norweigan woods, with editor Bob Murawski, who worked with Sam Raimi Army of Darkness, Drag Me to Hell), and knowing the story was supernatural, I was hoping for a Scandinavian Evil Dead. Unfortunately, the visuals aren’t immersive enough, and the stakes don’t seem that high. While Lillian seems traumatized and vulnerable, no one actually seems like they are in danger. There just isn’t that much excitement here, and the movie could have benefited from some “trippy” visual scenes, and/or some gore. Not much happens in this movie. 

Lillian doesn't like black goo (Shudder)

Other than Bernhard being insensitive and kind of obnoxious, none of the other characters have personality. It’s repeated that Sonja used to be a competitive swimmer, but it’s pretty heavy handed. She and Harald also reference the titles of a few horror movies, in what seems like an attempt to give them a little more personality and also to let you, the audience, pat yourself on the back for knowing what they are talking about. In the same vein, there are a few shots in obvious homage to iconic horror films. A couple of them feel forced, and not really making sense with the natural flow of the movie.


The movie clocks in at only 94 minutes, but it feels much longer due to its lack of personality, unengaging special effects, and little sense of danger for the characters. Since the original has been listed as the 4th best movie of all time in Norway, I would be curious to go back and watch that one to see how it compares not only aesthetically but also ideologically.

"Lake of Death" is streaming on Shudder now.

-Mara Powell