The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy
Written by Natalya Dubovaya, Ivan Kapitonov and Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy
2018, 87 minutes, Not Rated
Released on February 5th, 2019
Viktoriya Agalakova as Marina
Efim Petrunin as Roma Kitaev
Sofia Shidlovskaya as Lisa Grigorieva/ Mermaid
Nikita Elenev as Ilya
Sesil Plezhe as Olga
Ancient Russians told tales of a mermaid who captivated young men with her beauty and asked for their undying love. If he agreed, she took him to the depths of the sea, but if he refused, she took his loved ones until he relented. Neither offer sounds like a very good deal, but these are the rules.
Roma and Marina are set to be married in the coming days. In an uncharacteristic turn, his long absent father gives Roma the keys to his childhood home, an abandoned property with a troubled history. The place has remained empty since his mother died in the lake behind the house twenty years ago. His friend Ilya takes him to the old house where he has staged a surprise bachelor party, but Roma isn’t in the mood. He takes a walk to the lake where he meets a beautiful woman who asks if he loves her. They kiss and he blacks out. When he awakens she is gone and he is overcome with guilt for cheating on Marina. The next day, Roma is plagued with visions of the siren and suffers a swimming mishap and ends up in the hospital.
Marina consults Roma’s sister, Olga, and they go to check on him. He tells the story of what happened and Olga is immediately interested in the mystery woman. Marina storms off in a huff, but when Roma follows her through the hospital things get weird. He starts seeing the woman everywhere, but she is no longer beautiful and she continues to ask for his love. Olga thinks she may know someone who can help and takes the group on a wild trip that will uncover family secrets and provoke life-threatening confrontations.
Director Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy (Queen of Spades) tells an interesting albeit muddled story in his new romantic horror film The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead. The premise is solid enough, but something falls apart in the execution. The first problem with the movie is its misleading title; there is no mermaid. The creature may be a siren or a succubus, a wraith or even a water nymph – but is definitely not a mermaid. Despite having three writers, the script is not well developed since none of them has a firm grasp on the story. The film is beautifully shot and moves at a decent pace but can’t overcome the shortcomings of the source material. Further hampering enjoyment is some dodgy CGI that enhances nothing and is merely distracting
Viktoriya Agalakova stars as Marina, the bride-to-be who has a paralyzing fear of water. Her fiancé is a competitive swimmer and he is doing his best to teach her, but she is having difficulty. Efim Petrunin co-stars as Roma, a man in a terrible situation fighting for himself and his loved ones against an ancient evil. The actors work well together and audiences will be rooting for their survival, but the titular creature in question has other plans. The supporting cast does the best they can with the material, but the script requires huge leaps in logic to get from one scene to the next. There is a lot of trust on the part of Roma’s friends who simply accept that he is being pursued by a monster and drop everything to help him. At one point, Marina figures out a mystery involving an ancient ritual as if it were no more difficult than giving directions.
The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead is a bait-and-switch movie that cheats its way through backstory and offers a less-than-satisfying resolution. I was looking forward to an evil mermaid flick but tried to keep my disappointment in check as I watched the story being told instead. The film is short on suspense and chills and is ultimately a forgettable ride that you may want to think about before climbing on board.
Video and Audio:
The Mermaid arrives with a solid transfer that brings a lot of life to the image. Colors are bold and black levels are rich. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio makes good use of the frame and is rather satisfying.
There are four audio options on this disc, two in English and two in Russian (DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0). The English dub is not terrible, but I prefer the original language selection. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is lively and features some nice separation of sound effects. Dialogue levels are clear and free of distortion. A DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix is also available for those inclined.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
The only special feature on this disc is the original theatrical trailer.