The protagonists are always telling stories in this artsy Norwegian
horror film about a malevolent lake. It has some good moments, but not
Released in 1958, the 73-minute LAKE OF THE DEAD (DE
DODES TJERN) is widely considered a classic of Norwegian film--which,
considering that Norway is hardly known for its cinema, isnít saying a
whole lot. It was, however, fairly prescient, if for no other reason
than the fact that, cinematically speaking, Norway is now primarily
known for horror fare (BLACK SNOW,
RARE EXPORTS, NEXT DOOR, etc).
A novelist decides to write about something that
happened to him years earlier. It involves a lengthy train ride,
undertaken with several friends, to a cabin at the edge of an apparently
enchanted lake. Diary entries by a former resident of the cabin reveal
that the man was tormented by disturbing visions that seemed to emanate
from the lake.
Back in the story-within-the-story the inhabitants of
the cabin find themselves hypnotically lured toward the lake in the same
way their forebear was. Footsteps are spotted and a strange man is seen
in one of the bedrooms. Not to worry, though, because thereís a
(somewhat) natural explanation for it all!
LAKE OF THE DEADíS stories-within-stories motif
suggests (along with the frequent references to Strindberg, Galileo and
DON QUIXOTE) that director Kare Bergstrom had some high-falutiní ideals.
However, the stilted acting, cut-rate set design (the cabin where most
of the film takes place is right out of a fifties-era TV program) and
clumsily laid-out narrative (were all the stories within stories really
necessary?) fail to do Bergstromís aims justice.
Where the film succeeds is in the horrific atmosphere
conjured by the impressively shadowy, noirish photography. Unfortunately
even this is torpedoed by the obnoxious ending, which explains away the
eeriness of the earlier scenes in a thoroughly uninspiring round table
discussion that, to add insult to injury, concludes with a seriously
LAKE OF THE DEAD (DE DODES TJERN)
Director: Kare Bergstrom
Screenplay: Kare Bergstrom
(Based on a novel by Andre Bjerke)
Cinematography: Ragnar Sorensen
Editing: Olav Engebretsen
Cast: Andre Bjerke, Bjorg Engh, Henki Kolstad, Per Lillo-Stenberg,
Erling Lindhal, Henny Moan, Oyvind Oyen, Georg Richter, Leif Sommerstad,