Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Mermaid: Lake of the Dead
Most people’s images of Mermaids are those of Disney and cute women on top with fish halves as bottoms. Even the darker tales we have of mermaids usually has them as sultry seductresses who lure sailors to their dooms, but even then it’s considered a “well, I wouldn’t mind dying like that!” scenario rather than a truly evil monster that sucks the love and energy from a human being for fuel. I honestly didn’t know ANYTHING about Mermaid: Lake of the Dead before watching it, much less that it was a Russian film. My brain looked at the cover and said “sure, why not, I haven’t reviewed a day and date horror film from Scream Factory in a while”. My first instinct was that it was going to be your average low budget IFC productions film, but I was a little surprised to notice the Russian language track, which made me check my expectations at the door and look at the film with a little more interest.
I feel like I’m going to be going against the grain of a lot of other reviewers out there, but I rather like Mermaids: Lake of the Dead. It’s not a wildly GREAT horror film, but it is leagues better than any other Russian film I’ve seen (they’re kind of low on the totem pole for quality film makers) and the use of Russian lore and their unique view on mermaids made for an intriguing and different watch. The film starts out with a young woman losing her life to a mysterious creature in the nearby lake. The husband sits powerlessly off to the side as his bride is dragged into the deep, as he seems to be under some sort of trance. Fast forward to modern times and we’re introduced to ANOTHER young couple about to get married. Roma Kitaev (Efim Petrunin) is a swimmer by nature, and is getting ready for championships, while his pretty fiance Marina (Viktoriya Agalakova) is worrying about their future. Luckily for the pair of them, Roma’s estranged father has given them a lakeside cottage (hint hint) with instructions to sell, and the duo believe that they can fix it up and live in it.
During a bit of a bachelor party getaway, Roma walks down to the lakeside only to be confronted with a beautiful girl who completely bewitches the young man. After returning home Roma realizes something is wrong. He’s getting sick and has flashbacks to the woman in the lake. Bit by bit he’s inexorably drawn to that lake house once more and there seems to be nothing that can get in his way. Desperate to figure out what’s wrong, Marina accompanies Roma back to the house in an effort to rescue him from the clutches of the water dwelling beast.
The ending is a bit anti-climactic, but I have to admit that I really liked the traditional ENDING to a film, instead of using the cliched “oh my goodness!” twist at the very end just before the credits roll. That may have been unique and scary back in the 80s, but nowadays it’s almost as over used as the Wilhelm scream in films. Roma and Marina are believable enough for a horror movie, but while it’s unique and interesting in many ways, the horror tropes that it utilizes are actually rather basic upon further inspection. As such it’s not a GREAT horror film, but a rather fun one that uses cultural quirks to make it intriguing.
Not Rated by the MPAA
I’m not sure if this is a Russian thing, or a mistake in the creation, but the creature in the film is less a Mermaid (at least by our standards), but your typical haunted ghost. There’s a few moments where she sprouts some amphibious features, but mostly it seems like she’s a departed spirit rather than a half fish, half human type creature. Ah well, it’s still a fun movie with a few neat twists near the end. Scream Factory’s Is solid across the board with video and audio scores, but sadly there is no extras. Worth a solid watch if you’re into foreign monster movies.
Starring: Viktoriya Agalakova, Efim Petrunin, Sofia Shidlovskaya, Nikita Elenev, Igor Khripunov, Sesil Plezhe
Directed by: Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy
Written by: Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy, Natalya Dubovaya, Ian Kapitonov
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0, Russian DTS-HD MA 5.1, Russian DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Runtime: 87 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 5th, 2019
Recommendation: Interesting Watch