Rusalka: Ozero Myortvykh, THE MERMAID: LAKE OF THE DEAD (2018)
Directed by: Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy
Written by: Ivan Kapitonov, Natalya Dubovaya, Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy
Starring: Efim Petrunin, Igor Khripunov, Nikita Elenev, Sofia Shidlovskaya, Viktoriya Agalakova
THE MERMAID: LAKE OF THE DEAD (2018)
aka Rusalka: Ozero Myortvykh
Directed by Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy
Russian but dubbed in English
Accomplished swimmer Roma is plagued by visions of a female water spirit who wants him to love her and join her in the lake at his parents old summer house. Already in love with his fiance Marina, he refuses the spirit’s advances but unfortunately she doesn’t take no for an answer…
THE MERMAID: LAKE OF THE DEAD initially sounded an interesting idea on paper. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch a film about killer mermaids. However, this film can’t even achieve the English title it sports as this film doesn’t actually feature a mermaid at all but a Rusalka. A Rusulka is more akin to a vengeful water spirit, kind of like the type you see in J-horror; an aggrieved spirit of a jilted woman who committed suicide years ago in the water, or in this case centuries ago, who now has a bug to bear with all men. Spurned by her lover after he initially said he was into her, the spirit’s long-term plan is to lure men into her lake before snatching everybody they care about when said bloke decides that it was a bad decision acknowledging her in the first place. Sounds a weak plot? You wouldn’t be wrong. This is pretty much the top and bottom of the film as the dripping wet girl in her late teens/early twenties appears throughout the film to try and whisk Roma back to her watery grave. Enter pissed off fiance Marina who refuses to let go of her man and so, with the help of Roma’s sister Olga and Roma’s friend Ilya, attempts to banish the spirit for good. It’s pretty tedious stuff and no matter how they try to dress it up, with jump scares and scenes heavily inspired by Japanese horror movies, it just seems to go absolutely nowhere. Our lead character Roma flits back and forth from being the macho hero to being on deaths door as the water spirit does her dirty work on him, but I found myself wondering if I really cared that much at all? The answer: not really.
Apart from the aforementioned jump scares, there’s very little to get the adrenaline going. If you have a fear of water then the drowning style scenes may cause panic but scenes involving the water spirit adopting her CGI wide-mouthed, razed-toothed visage will hardly scare horror fans who’ve seen it all before. The entire film just feels messy and not very well thought out and therefore becomes a test of patience rather than a horror film you can properly enjoy.
When you have a ‘mermaid’ film that lacks any fin action, you know something is wrong. I went in expecting a vicious version of Splash but the result is just your ordinary, bog-standard, watered down budget horror that doesn’t even capitalise on Rusalka mythology either. Horror fans would be advised to give this one a wide berth.