Neverlake (Uncork’d Entertainment, NR)

film neverlake 75Jenny’s adventure unfolds in numerous disturbing visions, creepy flashbacks, and eerie dream sequences.



film neverlake 500

Coming from Italy and based on an ancient Etruscan archeological site found in the Tuscany region, Neverlake tells a mystical story inspired by Mary Shelley’s poetry, which can be heard throughout the film. (Shelley, an English poet and novelist, spent a significant part of her life living in Italy.) Located near Arezzo, the mythical “Lake of the Idols” was believed to have magical healing properties on behalf of the sick. Around 3,000 years ago, people would throw small bronze artifacts resembling body parts, or minor statues of the natives that needed to be cured of disease, into the center of the remedial waters of the lake. Being from Europe myself, I really appreciate the unique feel of this film sustained by the beautiful Italian landscapes and streets. Neverlake captivates my interest even more by the fact that, even though I’ve visited Tuscany and Arezzo multiple times, I have never heard of the “Lake of the Idols” or any of the interesting stories behind it.

Directed by Riccardo Paoletti (who is also known for Dailies, the black-and-white documentary film about crew members from the legendary Cinecittà studios in Rome), the film tells the story of 16-year-old Jenny (Daisy Keeping) who travels back to her birthplace in Italy to reunite with her doctor/researcher father (David Brandon), merely to discover the truth behind all his secrets and lies. Disappointed when she sees her family reunion expectations shatter, she makes friends with a group of “sick and strange, but likeable” children from the nearby Home and Hospital of Sick People, who lead her to reveal the spine-chilling reality behind the plans of her father and his very unfriendly lover, Olga.

Even with a couple of unexpected twists and turns in the plot, the story is still slightly predictable, but that doesn’t mean it is any less thrilling to follow—in fact, following an attention-grabbing hook in the first few minutes of the film, it does not drag at all. Jenny’s adventure unfolds reasonably quickly, in numerous disturbing visions, creepy flashbacks, and eerie dream sequences frequently centered on the mystical waters of the lake, and its shiny, medusa-like creatures called Souls. Although the dialogue may not be this film’s strongest weapon, the grandiose performance of the cast makes the whole narrative come together quite convincingly. For example, Olga’s awkwardly suspicious and exceedingly caring, but also unusually mean, behavior soon makes us wonder what the story behind Jenny’s father’s research really is. The impressive underwater shots as well as the exotic locations, unusual camera angles, powerful music, and confining interiors all add texture to the remarkable cinematography by Cesare Danese.

Unfortunately, there are no special features on the DVD release of this film, but I highly recommend viewing this supernatural thriller. Following a limited theatrical run, Neverlake will be available June 6 on VOD and July 29 on DVD. | Lea Vrábelová

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