Monday, June 30, 2014

Now on VOD, soon on DVD: Italian supernatural thriller, NEVERLAKE, from Riccardo Paoletti


An odd duck in many ways, NEVERLAKE is an Italian movie filmed in English with what looks like a somewhat international cast of actors. It can best be described as a kind of supernatural thriller that is also part of the horror/slasher genre -- except that none of the slashing occurs on-screen. And yet, at its core, the movie is very dark indeed (in theme, really one of the darkest I've seen) except that its darkness is couched in quiet dread and the beauty of the Tuscan landscape and architecture.

Written by Manuela Cacciamani and Carlo Longo and directed by Riccardo Paoletti, shown at left (according to the IMDB, this is the first try for all three, though Ms Cacciamani has had over a decade's background as crew member, on production, in special effects and even as producer on various projects), the movie is clearly a fledgling effort and yet it is good enough in many ways to keep genre fans watching. By film's end, though there have been a number of slow points along the way, the tale itself is so full of the darkest kind of horror that it will stick with you, post end-credit roll.

Why? Because what Neverlake is actually about is a theme few filmmakers go near, and when they do , they're more likely to gussy it up with lots of blood and gore. What is actually going on here and who is in charge of it is the mystery of the movie, and once we learn the answer, very close to the film's end, what has happened is supremely troubling.

The story is that of a young and pretty high school girl named Jenny, from America (played by British actress Daisy Keeping, above and below), whose Brit parents first met and then conceived her in Italy. Now she returns to her birthplace to spend some time with her father (a stoic -- or maybe he's playing hard-to-read -- David Brandon, below, right) from whom, for whatever reason we never learn, she has been somehow estranged.

From the first Dad behaves in ways that do not scream "good parent," and poor Jenny is left to her own devices for entertainment and companionship. While Dad goes to town to conduct some nefarious stuff with an antiques dealer (a red herring that goes nowhere), Jenny hooks up with some odd kids from a nearby -- orphanage? hospital? whatever -- the oldest and hunkiest of whom is played by Martin Kashirokov (below, and at bottom).

None of this make much sense in any strict, by-the-book mystery sense, but the cinematography and acting is good enough, and the location pretty and exotic enough to keep you watching. There's a lake nearby said to have magical powers that date from the Etruscan age, and some missing Etruscan artifacts also come into play.

Once you try to piece this all together after the fact, nothing much sticks in any logical way, yet the movie manages to build a surprising head of steam (and dread), as Jenny gets further involved with those kids, her dad and his "assistant," Olga (a good job by Joy Tanner, above), her favorite poets (below), and finally those "spirits of the lake."

While the supernatural element eventually raises its head(s) to fair effect, it's the parent/child relationship (or lack of it) that matters most. That's what's likely to stay with you longest. Yikes -- to think of what we humans can sometimes be capable!

Neverlake -- from the relatively new distributor, Uncork'd Entertainment, and running 86 minutes -- is available now via VOD and will hit the street on DVD come Tuesday, July 29.

2 comments:

Aygun Isyar said...

WHERE İS THE NEVERLAKE İN THE REAL LİFE AND ON THE GOOGLE? aygunisyar@hotmail.com

James van Maanen said...

Hi, Aygun--
I really don't know where NEVERLAKE is in real life. Or even at which lake in Italy (or elsewhere) they filmed this movie. It is a beautiful location, however.

As to where it is on Google, I haven't a clue, either. I only know that the movie was available here in the USA from a distributor called Uncork'd Entertainment, which can be found at this address:
http://www.uncorked-ent.com/