I stumbled upon "Lake of the Dead" rather accidentally, in the DVD collection of a friend of mine who's a devoted cinephile, but in spite of the sober cover illustration and laconic plot description, it looked intriguing enough to check it out. "Lake of the Dead" is a Norwegian thriller from the 1950's, and this superficial little production detail alone was quite fascinating enough for me. Norwegian horror is uprising nowadays (with instant classics like "Cold Prey", "Dead Snow" and "Next Door" to prove it) but, I suppose like the case with most people, my knowledge of Norwegian horror movies that are fifty years or older was rather non-existent. Even in case of a worldwide DVD distribution, I sincerely doubt this film will ever become an acclaimed genre classic, but still it deserves the recognition and respect of a much larger audience.
A group of matured and intellectual friends, including writers and psychiatrists, head out to the remote backwoods for a careless holiday full of hiking and spending time together. Upon their arrival, however, the group is confronted with the ancient folklore legend of Tore Gravik. Many years ago in these woods, this mentally unstable man killed his own sister (with whom he was in love) and her lover, before vanishing into the woods never to be heard about again. Soon enough, the group witnesses strange occurrences and sense an invisible presence. Prominent intellectuals like them naturally don't believe in urban legends. Or do they? The essence of this movie's powerful and everlasting impact lies within
its simplicity! "Lake of the Dead" tells a very rudimentary story and features ordinary and identifiable people as the main characters. These people show naturally common signs of fear and hypocrisy and they do what any normal person would do in perilous condition. Another brilliant quality is the use of the breathtaking sets and locations. Director Kare Bergstrom introduces the cabin in the woods and the nearby lake like additional and vital characters in the story and they demand more than a fair share of your attention. The tone of the film is continuously ominous and the overall atmosphere is creepy & unsettling beyond description. I've rarely witnessed a movie that grabbed my attention as profoundly as "Lake of the Dead". The conclusion of the film is psychologically astounding, although probably too talkative and/or convoluted for the modern film audiences that swear by nonsensical stuff like "Twilight" and "Van Helsing". But what the hell, they are not likely to ever track down a copy of this obscure treasure, anyway.
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