Bodom (2016) aka Lake Bodom

Directed by Taneli Mustonen

Written by Taneli Mustonen & Aleksi Hyvarinen

Starring Mimosa Willamo, Nell Hirst-Gee, Santeri Helinheimo and Mikael Gabriel

Four young friends venture forth into the Finnish wilderness to spend some time together at the site of a hereto unsolved true-life murder. Perhaps tempting fate, the quartet find themselves beset upon by a knife wielding killer BUT…. that is where things get interesting…

Euro horror is a unique subset of films and they often do not play into the conventions set forth my mainstream American horror. Bodom is perhaps the quintessential example of such a claim. This unique and remarkable film turns the classic slasher trope on its head and I truly admire it for setting out to do something new.

The setup basically consists of one young man convincing several others to spend a night camping with him under the guise of fun and alcohol fueled frolic, only to later reveal that his motive is to study the particulars of a gruesome murder (a true life unresolved crime from the 60’s) of four young people much like themselves. You see where this is going, right?

But then… we get our first big twist and the tale switches genres quite effectively. Now we have a crime thriller! Lo and behold the bag of tricks has yet to run dry as later on down the road we have yet another genre convention flipped and we revert to what one might now dub as “torture-porn”. Essentially the film takes the concepts of Friday the 13th, High Tension and Wolf Creek, smashes them with a Gallagher sledgehammer and rearranges the bloody pieces as it sees fitfully fit. The end result is intriguing, fascinating and very effective.

There are faults, yes. The unique story structure will not placate all tastes and it will likely move a bit too slow for some (despite the first inkling of action taking place a brisk 25 minutes in). As such with such a strange three act structure, pacing is a bit of an issue too. Although I loved what they did, it is a bit of an awkward transition between each of the story styles. Despite it being the most visceral and graphic of the lineup, the final third of the film is also a bit too conventional and cliche as the film essentially degrades into the very subgenre that it is seemingly attempting to avoid.

The film also sports a nice aesthetic as well. The forested scenery looks beautiful and daunting and the decision for some of the action to take place during daylight was an interesting decision. As such as the seemingly schizophrenic nature of the film, the lush scenery is set upon by graphic and unsettlingly realistic gore and grime. It’s not a splatter fest by any means, but the kills are graphic and they tend to drag out making this a satisfyingly violent film.

Bodom won’t be for all tastes. There are some pacing issues and, given the film’s lack of accessibility, those who are expecting a traditional RouTEEN campfire slasher will be taken aback by the bold choices to switch up genres seemingly on the fly. The young actors all do fine and the violence is graphic enough. So basically we have a very solid, intriguing foreign horror film. It’s recommended for all those looking for something a little different or those who are interested in stories inspired by true crime.

If you can get ahold of it, give Bodom a shot and see what you make of it.

Bodom is presented in its native language with English subtitles. As of writing (May 2017) the film is available legally exclusively to the Shudder online horror streaming service. 

3.5/5 torn tent flaps 

Splatter Factor: 3/5 *** Bodom is a satisfyingly graphic film. While not overtly gory and all kills consisting of standard stabbings, the deaths are presented in graphic and drawn our detail, increasing the impact of the violence. The Wolf Creek-esque final third of the film consists of more graphic and unsettling scenes involving some extreme close ups that will disturb most viewers. Solid stuff. **

The Collective speaks:

We enjoy the unexpected. We enjoy such films as Wolf Creek and Haute Tension. Hereto we enjoy Lake Bodom. There are times when tradition should be adhered to and others when a break from normality is quite welcome. We hope that bold fare such as this will serve as a warning to young people to stay away from the woods. There are forces far beyond your comprehension lurking amongst the black trees. Then again, we have bore witness to this since the 1930’s and yet you persist. We welcome your red screams on the blades of those whose minds dwell in the shadows. 

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