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‘Slashers for me are about the anticipation of the knife rather than lashings of blood and gore’ - Lake Bodom director Taneli Mustonen

If you’re bummed that you’re not at closing night, there’s still just about time to grab this 60th edition of the festival by the horns. How about a Finnish slasher movie for instance?

Lake Bodom (2016)

Lake Bodom (2016)

Screening at 21.00 in NFT3, Lake Bodom takes its cue from a horrific, lakeside triple-murder that shocked the country back in 1960. Playing with audience expectations of genre, it’s Finland’s most successful horror film to date, screening – naturally – in our Cult strand. We put some questions to its director, Taneli Mustonen.

On the original case

These things happen all over the world, but in Finland it represented the end of a certain kind of innocence. We’d always been told that it was safe country, that you could camp out anywhere, then in 1960 this horrible thing happened. Four kids were attacked one night while camping, and the case just grew and grew because they couldn’t find the killer. It became this urban legend, but the last trials were only 10 years ago.

The one boy that survived claimed he couldn’t remember anything of the night, but there were a lot of discrepancies in his story. There are so many books and documentaries about Bodom, every kid knows the story. I first heard it when I was 13, and it was so movie-like, like Friday the 13th. I think we got the money for the film because we weren’t telling the exact story, it was more inspired by the case, so less problematic.

On slasher movies

I’m really scared about saying what type of film it is, because I’m really not a genre guy. Slashers for me – starting with the shower scene in Psycho – are about the anticipation of the knife rather than lashings of blood and gore. I just wanted to show real characters and make it as entertaining as hell, hopefully. We didn’t want to make a traditional horror film, because those things are so difficult to make work, people have seen so many of them. I started by asking how small things can lead to such an ugly event, about the line between love and murder.

Lake Bodom (2016)

Lake Bodom (2016)

On a challenging shoot

This was my third film but my first horror film. I’d only done a couple of days of night shoots before this, and suddenly I’m shooting for seven weeks in the forest, where it’s so cold and you can only shoot within a small perimeter at night. I’ve been working with the same crew since the beginning though, and half the fun is coming up with solutions to difficult situations.

Interview by Matthew Thrift

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