Norway has recently made itself a flashing beacon on the cult cinema map with films like Troll Hunter and Norwegian Ninja, which have both been very favorably reviewed by, among others, my colleague Keith over at Teleport City. Never one to be above bandwagon jumping, I thought I’d pipe in with a review of an example of Norwegian genre cinema from the past, undeterred by the fact that I know little about the country beyond that it is where some of Aqua are from. Fear not, however, that I will be padding out this review with Aqua-related trivia –- though I will say that Lene’s solo album was criminally underappreciated, especially that song about how it’s your duty to shake that booty, be it small, fat, or round and juicy.
Happily, Lake of the Dead is much more of a real mystery than a whodunit, and while Bugge does eventually -- through using tools of his trade like dream analysis, hypnosis, and seeing everything as being vaguely dirty -- put forward a prosaic solution to the central puzzle, other, more unsettling questions are left tantalizingly unresolved.
All in all, Lake of the Dead is a hugely enjoyable film. It combines all the fun of a well constructed potboiler with a haunting lyricism that points toward far more murky depths beneath its polished surface. Viewed in the wee hours, and in an appropriately receptive state, it could definitely give you a deliciously good scare. As such, it’s easy to see why it holds such a hallowed place in the cinematic history of its country of origin. All the more impressive is how, in a manner sadly atypical of its genre, it manages to accomplish its humble aims with such subtlety and nuance.
Very much unlike this: