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Lake Bodom – Movie Review: London Film Festival 2016

12 October, 2016 — by Christopher Ratcliff0

bodom movie poster

The decision to take an existing unsolved crime – in this case the brutal murder of a group of teenagers in 1960 at Lake Bodom, Finland – and turn it into the basis of a fictional slasher movie is a tricky one.

It would be like twisting the tale of Lord Lucan and revealing it was Jason Vorhees who murdered his wife all along. An unconscionable act for sure, but perhaps when there are 56 years between the murder and a horror-movie reimagining, it won’t seem so icky. That’s what Taneli Mustonen’s Finnish slasher, Lake Bodom is hoping for.

Although it may not be quite as sensational as what I’ve described above, Lake Bodom still feels fairly exploitative. It suffers in plenty of other areas too.


Lake Bodom (the film) centres on Ida and Norma, two teenage girls who are persuaded to spend a night in Lake Bodom by two slightly odd and very douchey male friends, Elias and Atte. Although Ida has recently experienced a damaging invasion of her privacy, Norma suggests the trip is just what she needs. The pair of boys however have an ulterior motive. They want to recreate the infamous crime scene from 1960 in the hopes of luring the killer out of hiding.

This isn’t the be all and end all of the plot. Far from it… further twists reveal all kinds of secret motivations and genre-bending left-turns to keep you from nodding off. You have to do an awful lot to elevate the campfire slasher to something relatively original and interesting, and by the end of Lake Bodom, you will definitely feel like it’s succeeded in not being *quite* like every other slasher.

The trouble is for the first two-thirds, you’re seeing nothing terribly new. Perhaps it’s down to Blair Witch fatigue, and having only recently seen some doomed campers have a horrible time in the woods that you spend most of the film ticking off the clichés and identical shots of endless forest. Once things become more interesting, and after the first twist reveals itself, the extended voiceover and flashback explaining the true plan comes off like a Bond villain monologue and kills the film dead. The final third struggles to pick up the pace.


Lake Bodom does its best to remain slyly subversive but is constantly undermined by unearned tonal shifts and poor scripting – the final moments of horrific brutality belong in a different movie (Switchblade Romance perhaps), the subplot involving a psychotically jealous lesbian belong to a much less enlightened era – and the last scene feels oddly rushed.

There is a precedent for taking a real life horror story and fictionalising a slasher movie out of it. The Burning took the urban myths of the upstate New York Cropsey murders and turned them into one of the best summer camp slashers ever made. Albeit one that leaves you questioning its moral code. Lake Bodom leaves you with a feeling of distaste, but also struggles to engage or surprise. 2/5

Keep up with the latest LFF2016 reviews in our London Film Festival section, including the superior horror The Void.

Lake Bodom

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