THE LAND OF BLUE LAKES (2021)
Directed and written by Arturs Latkovskis.
Starring Arturs Latkovskis, Veronika Rumjanceva, Alina Sedova, Vladislavs Filipovs, Edgars Jurgelans
Find out more about this film here!
A group of five Russian kayakers paddle their way through a series of lakes and inlets on a hiking trip. As their trip progresses, it is revealed these islands once were the sites of Pagan sacrifices before the area was overtaken by Christianity. As the kayakers proceed on their journey, they find odd markings, strange baby dolls nailed to trees, and more indications that something dark still inhabits this area.
What makes THE LAND OF BLUE LAKES work is that it feels 100% legit. It’s a found footage film, but a few words placed at the beginning of the film makes everything you’re about to see feel like it is absolutely authentic. And really, that should be the goal of all found footage films. This means there is no additional music added and no scenes that aren’t filmed by the people present. The opening scrawl states that five kayakers went out on the lakes are never returned. Then it says that this footage was found uploaded to the dark web. So the editing of multiple cameras issue is overcome by putting on the façade that some weird dark webber snagged the footage and put it all together for our enjoyment. This means that THE LAND OF BLUE LAKES feels about as real as can be, which is important to me as a viewer and should be more important to more makers of found footage films.
THE LAND OF LAKES also provides some amazing views of the gorgeous landscape of the Latvian lakes. It also guarantees that I am not interested nor will I ever be interested in kayaking any time soon. Not only does it seem like an insane amount of work, but this group paddle through shallow reeds and must overcome branches blocking their routes. Too much work for me, thankyouverymuch. One of the cooler views that is occasionally used is the panoramic view, reminiscent of many a Beastie Boys video, which gives a 360 degree view of the kayakers and the lake around them. It just makes for a cool and different way of following this group as they take their perilous journey.
One of the sad issues of many a found footage film is that there’s an awful lot of walking through the woods screaming for lost members of the group and very little happening until the very, very end of the film. It’s an unfortunate detail found in some of the biggest films of this type like BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Sadly, THE LAND OF BLUE LAKES is guilty of this too and I feel it’s going to be the one thing that kills it for viewers. There’s a lot of attention given to the lakes and the paddling. And I mean, a lot. I’m not saying there aren’t some suspicious things going on throughout the film. Savvy viewers will see people stalking the group in hidden in the background, there’s a creepy moment where someone steals the camera and films the group while they are sleeping, and the backstory of the Pagan rituals is peppered in throughout the story. But the real action doesn’t really get going until the hour mark. And with this being an hour and twelve minute film, it’s going to be a little too little and a little too late for a lot of viewers.
I was gripped by the final few minutes of THE LAND OF BLUE LAKES. The action is brutal and frightening. What impressed me most is that this feels authentic with no production bells and whistles added. It may take its sweet time to get to the good stuff, but the found footage genre may not be fading as much in popularity if they made them look as credible as this film looks.