It is always refreshing when a horror film, places itself in or near a true historical area, and herein, the location, The Lake of Idols, plays significantly into director Riccardo Paoletti’s first horror film, and enhanced wonderfully by a sculpture screenplay from Manuela Cacciamani and Carlo Longo. Although, Manuela brings the experience of the genre of horror for Riccardo to execute proper, with skill develop from The Haunting of Helena (2012), with clever and wonderfully skill of story-telling and not rushing the tempo, rather allowing the horror and mystery to bloom slowly.
The story involves Jenny Brook returning home, to rekindle her relationship that soured after her mother’s passing, and thoughtful conditioning of her character comes from Daisy Keeping, and shows her passion for books, and the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, some of his work surrounds the lake, adding to the importance of his influence. However, what she deemed as a rebuilding with her father, a surgeon turn archaeologist, with many secrets and devious mindset carried appropriately by David Brandon, becomes hazy with a thickness of mistrust and mystery. David, no stranger to the genre, understanding the measured responses to build a psychological horror film rather than a straightforward slasher film, marks this feature as his ninth venture into the genre. Olga joins this compelling duo, marking her territory with sternness and no-nonsense approach, all from the stunning and incredibly talented Joy Tanner. She too marks now her eighth journey into the horror genre, that has steadily improve from her first work from the 1992 film, entitled Prom Night IV: Deliver US from Evil, yet here her motives remain quite opaque from Jenny. The characters play masked dance partners when it comes to the understanding of The Lake of Idols, which in reality is located south of Mount Falterona, in Tuscany and consider the most interesting for the numerous bronze castings of body parts, and hints the lake serve a remarkable healing powers to the Etruscans and maybe carries over to others. The reasoning for Jenny’s returned leave her in darkness as well the audience, but an orphanage of missing children, and in some regards disfigured, hold secrets to the mysteries surrounding Jenny and the lake.
The atmosphere woven into the film relies on the gothic undertones found in classic horror films of the 1930s, using imagery to convey magnificent elements that often find themselves overlooked by the average viewer, yet used to assist the settings. This film might wavier to the quiet side a tad too much, it does allow for a more elegant essence of filmmaking, rather than lashing out with blood splattering effects of the hardcore horror fans. However, one must note the character, Peter (Martin Kasirokov) who, hides in the shadows in the beginning and then reveals himself to Jenny, appearing with a bluish hoodie, making a vastly contrast to the deplorable conditions surround him and the other children. Peter’s influence obviously a connection and copy to that of Robert Pattinson’s Twilight character from the hair, body frame, and stylization, as he states in bonding with Jenny his interest in romantic tragedies.
Riccardo’s first feature, sneaks under the wire of the typical horror film, at 86-minutes, but never overstays the presence for the care of the audience, allowing all elements to develop and yet understands the current audiences’ attention lacks long-term dedication. He continues to capture the touches of gothic romance of the Tuscan scenery blending it into a delicate fabric of magical qualities and horror effectively revealed to the audience. The film’s supernatural elements appear vividly and yet never cheating the audience with ignorance, rather presenting a true conclusion of the film. All the timings of the cast pinpoint nicely, aside from the wooden driven lines of acting from the orphan actors. Nevertheless, Neverlake develops strong frightening realities in a poetic design, with unique and inventive direction creating the performances for repeated viewings, as to discover the plot twists, tempo changes and chilling back-stories.
The ghostly angles mixture with real life histories brings forth a deeper and more meaningful horror story, for a genre that finds itself in a repeat cycle of ghastly goblins, resurrected zombies and creatures of the depths of darkness, wherein human monsters are far more interesting to discover.