While I generally am a fan of the independent horror scene in the States, it is safe to say I enjoy films from around the world a tad bit more. Some of my favorites, more recently especially, come from Japan or even Australia. With that said, how does Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy’s Russian horror film, The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead, hold up? Read on to find out.
A bachelor party getaway at his summer house proves to be a cursed decision as visions of a mysterious woman begin haunting Roman. Can his fiancé, Marina, his sister, Olga, and friend, Ilya, help Roman find the answers he needs before the woman on the lake takes permanent hold of him?
The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead, like most low-budget horror films, features a tiny cast of just a handful of actors. That is never a bad thing in my book as it allows more time for audiences to get to know each character a little bit more intimately. Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy’s film is no different in that regard.
There is enough character development to move the story along in a natural progression, while not being too much to bog things down. Each performer played their roles perfectly and I have nothing bad to say about the talent on display throughout The Mermaid‘s 87 minute runtime.
I do want to note that I would recommend switching the film to its original Russian language track accompanied by the English subtitles. The English dubbing is quite good overall, but the actors emotions and reactions are more properly portrayed with watching and listening to it in their native tongue.
Although Lake of the Dead is a Russian film, it very much reminds me of J-horror. The titular character of “the mermaid,” although very different from most mermaids I am personally familiar with, has many forms. In her human form, she is a meek and timid blonde. In her most common form seen throughout the film, however, she is ghoulish with long fingernails, constantly wet hair, and more fish-like features.
This form is the one which most reminds me of the haunting antagonists of such films as Ringu or Ju-on. When the sinister siren is in full effect, she is more than a formidable opponent for Sadako (or Samara, for the American rendition fans).
While I would have loved to see even more of the mermaid than we did, I did quite enjoy her design. Executed with what seemed to be a combination of both practical and visual effects, the mermaid, once known as Lisa Grigorieva, is certainly something that nightmares are made of.
The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead is not a particularly gory film and doesn’t feature much gruesome imagery, so if you’re one of those sanguine addicts, don’t get your hopes up. If, however, you are a fan of the supernatural, this may be a film you want to move to the top of your watch list.
It features a talented cast, masterful cinematography, and a creepy and memorable “bad guy.”
Lake of the Dead will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from the fine folks at Scream! Factory on February 5. While it is a bare bones release with no real bonus features to speak of, it does have the signature Scream! Factory reversible artwork and is still worthy of even the most jaded horror collection.
Be sure to snag a copy for yourself and let me know your thoughts on the film! I give it 3.5 shell-shaped combs out of 5.