Review: Body of water

An old legend, hostile locals, a young urban woman, and a dad with something to hide are the ingredients in this Finnish fantasy-thriller.

A young urban lawyer, Julia, travels to her parents’ home village in order to assist an energy company in their exploitation of the area. Not surprisingly, the locals are not interested, and they have a powerful ally; the lake! Soon Julia is caught by her past, and that doesn’t actually help.

The story in Body of water (original title; Syvälle salattu) is quite simple, but the film plays out on many levels. Marketed as a thriller, the film is also a haunted lake mystery, environmental thriller, and personal drama, all based on old legends and folklore. Quite an interesting mix, coming from a country that has potential for some offbeat films (see Rare Exports for example). This particular film however, is quite mainstream and straight forward, and the many levels will not confuse you. They all blend seamlessly together and are all relevant to the story, and it’s a pleasure to see such good writing folded out on screen. In spite of that, something feels a bit old and stale, perhaps the general theme, which isn’t given a new spin but treated according to the formula. Legends coming alive is nothing new, even though it might be new to Finnish cinema audiences. Furthermore, the movie is neither scary enough or fantastical enough to break out of its mid-range comfort zone. While the atmosphere is thick and all actors do a good job, the whole film feels a bit deja-vu and safe, as if the only changes compared to similar movies are the locations (which are not used to their full potential, by the way).

Once the film’s “monster” has shown itself, the film falls a bit flat, which is a pity, because the craft is excellent and it’s always interesting to see local genre films take up the competition. Ultimately, Body of water fails because it does not dare to go all the way, but remains in its comfort zone so that more viewers find it less alien.

Rated 5 of 10.

Directed by Joona Tena.

Finland, 2011.