The Darker The Lake (2022)
Directed by: Lok Kwan Woo
Written by: Lok Kwan Woo, Yang Yang, Z Zoccolante
Starring: Elyse Levesque, Gina Stiebitz, Ludger Bökelmann, Veronica Ferres, Vladimir Burlakov, Wei-Ning Hsu, Yu-Ning Tsao
THE DARKER THE LAKE (2022)
Directed by Lok Kwan Woo
Available on Digital
With a spate of mysterious deaths in their Austrian town, raging from killings to suicides, detectives Tamara and Lukas investigate and find a link to a game called Painkiller; a game which cost the live of a group of teenagers thirty years earlier which Tamara’s mother Lea was involved with. As the sole survivor from the ‘game’, the two probe Lea for answers but the reluctant woman refuses to give them the full story. With more and more lives being lost, Tamara and Luke try to solve the case but it seems Painkiller hasn’t finished with them just yet.
Supernatural horror thriller THE DARKER THE LAKE has an interesting concept at its heart but unfortunately it’s clumsily executed to the point that the screenplay feels too disjointed to watch comfortably. From wooden performances from the various actors involved to dialogue that is sometimes too mumbly you have to strain yourself to hear it properly, everything about the movie seems to be off-kilter enough to make for a frustrated watch. Because of this, it’s difficult to actually enjoy what’s being delivered on screen. With scenes jumping from one thing to another without any real flow, and awkwardly explained scenarios with no real depth or tension buildup, the film becomes more of an endurance test than a movie you can sit back and have fun watching.
THE DARKER THE LAKE, for the most part, plays out like a mystery which detectives Tamara and Lukas must solve. Intertwined with this are flashbacks to the past involving Tamara’s mother Lea who got involved with a game that possessed dark powers that could take away the pain of the players providing their request was pure. Throw in a love interest and a storyline of a jilted lover and things begin to get dangerous for the group of teens. Discovering all this in the present, Tamara and Lukas suspect this vengeful game still has its hooks into the community but how? Or is it all a load of hocus pocus?
Apart from featuring some eye-catching location shots of the stunning Austrian landscape, THE DARKER THE LAKE never seems to properly get out of first gear. It’s as though it’s hindering itself any time it seems to get going. The minute you feel it’s getting somewhere, a door seems to shut. By then it’s hard to build back the momentum and interest in the story enough to leave the starting block. Though I like the idea of a game having a grip on the reality of the individuals in the community, the way it’s explained just leaves an emptiness inside. By the end, rather than feel fulfilled by a conclusion, it’s more of a relief that it’s come to some sort of culmination even if by this point you’ve passed caring.
Despite an interesting concept, THE DARKER THE LAKE teases more than it actually delivers.