The Horror Honeys: NEVERLAKE: “I'll think of a mermaid lagoon, underneath a magic moon.”

NEVERLAKE: “I'll think of a mermaid lagoon, underneath a magic moon.”

A "Meh" Supernatural Honey Review by Suzanne

Neverlake (2013)

2015 isn’t giving me much to work with in the way of supernatural films. This week I chose a film that sounded absolutely terrible, but, surprisingly, didn’t leave me with a giant rage baby.

Jenny Brook (Daisy Keeping) leaves boarding school mid-term to visit her father in Italy. Dr. Brook (David Brandon) and his “housekeeper,” Olga (Joy Tanner), give Jenny a rather cold welcome. While her father almost instantly alienates her, Olga starts plying Jenny with vitamins and food. To keep herself occupied, Jenny walks the local woods to the “Lake of Idols,” a mysterious place once used by the Etruscans for its healing powers. There she meets a blind girl who has wandered too far from home. As Jenny walks her back, they end up at what Jenny thinks is an orphanage. She meets other children of varying ages who all appear to be quite sickly looking. As she leaves, the children warn her not to let the adults see her because the adults are bad.

Jenny returns several times to read to the children and they continue to be very cryptic about their circumstances. At home, Jenny suspects her father and Olga are up to no good. After doing a little digging, she finds what her father has been hiding, or rather who. This discovery puts her in mortal danger as she faces the wrath of her father, as well of the ancient gods of the lake.

Neverlake is a slow moving film, but it only runs a blissful 88 minutes so it isn’t terribly painful. The biggest issue with the movie is the use of modern medical experimentation with supernatural mythology and a fairy tale. I see what the filmmakers were attempting, but it just doesn’t come together smoothly. It’s as if they tried to mate a del Toro film with a Cronenberg film, but ended up with a slightly disabled hybrid.

Because everyone goes for a brisk jog in their nightie.
The other problem is the continuous voiceover poem reading by Jenny. She makes it clear in the beginning that Shelly is her favorite poet, but adding the poetic narrative lends little to the film’s plot and becomes a distraction. It also pulls the double twist, both of which are fairly easy to see coming, and results in the depressing happy ending.

Mistakes were made...
Let's not make this awkward.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad. The film uses some beautiful imagery, making it very dream-like at times. I was a bit worried because the CGI in the first few minutes was really awful, but it was really minimal and was only really present again toward the end. It was filmed on location in Italy, during what appeared to be a dreary autumn, to give the film a certain mood. The all British cast does an admirable job with a rather janky script, especially Keeping, who carries the majority of the film.
Speaking of which, I read a few of the reviews on IMDb and one of the biggest sticking points with people was Jenny’s accent. She keeps being referred to as an “American teen” and the character does indeed attend school in NYC. However, if you pay attention to the narration at the beginning of the film, when Jenny speaks of her origins, she clearly states her father is British and after her mother passes away, she goes to live with her grandmother and then to boarding school when she could no longer care for her. Sure, they could have played that a bit less convoluted and had her attend school in the UK, but the explanation is there if you listen.

"I'm stabbing you in my mind. Can you feel it?
This is, by no stretch of the imagination, one of the better ghost stories I’ve seen in recent years, but it certainly isn’t the worst. Despite its missteps, it kept me engaged and I didn’t want to throw anything after it was over. That’s a win, right?

Neverlake is available on Netflix streaming.

Supernatural Honey verdict: 2.5 Peter Pan references out of 5