I remember hearing about They Look Like People on a couple of podcasts, raving about how it was a DIY production done right. Director Perry Blackshear utilizes every bit he has in his film and that translates well into his follow up THE RUSALKA. While emphasizing heavily on atmosphere, the mystery behind it all keeps viewers engaged in an almost fairy tale like horror story that some might find endearing.
THE RUSALKA focuses on three characters to carry the narrative. Our lead is Tom, a mute who is having issues with his Christian faith. He rents out a cabin by a lake in an attempt to find some kind of enlightenment. There, he meets the scruffy Al, a well-meaning neighbor Tom befriends, but Al’s agenda involves killing whatever caused his husband to drown in the lake a while back. One night, Tom hears noises outside and finds Nina, a girl who is always swimming and appears harmless. They have their own excursions in the lake which helps Tom conquer his fear of the water, but he also takes notice that she never seems to leave the water.
Al meets her at one point and notices immediately that something is different about her. We as viewers are well aware that she’s no normal girl, with certain moments triggering her eyes to go black and her voice to change into a demonic tone. We quickly learn that when this happens, she has a hunger to drown people. The pieces are easy to put together, but Blackshear doesn’t make that the focus.
Not only are we treated to some great cinematography of the lake, but the chemistry between the actors is also undeniable. Evan Dumouchel as Tom is incredibly charismatic and it’s easy to see why he’s drawn to Nina. Their exchanges are beautiful to watch while feeling so innocent that you almost forget you’re watching a horror movie. We do question her intentions though as her inner monster might have other plans for him. Al’s story is also an emotional touch as we are treated to flashbacks of him and his husband and feel that loss and anxiety when he’s staring at the lake. Two films came to mind while watching this: Harvest Lake and Spring. Harvest Lake revolves around a group that stays at a cabin by the lake but there’s a presence that feeds on sexual desire. Spring involves the relationship between an American traveling in Italy when he meets a girl who might not be all that she seems. While THE RUSALKA doesn’t focus on anything sexually, there’s no doubting the DIY nature they both utilize and filming on real locations to create a convincing environment. Spring is helping us horror fans get an unusual love story that might touch some of us who typically won’t admit to being that sensitive.
I got to watch this at the Windy City Horrorama, a film festival that focuses on independent horror where us midwesterners get the luxury to watch the kind of movies we normally have to wait for VOD. With fellow horror fans and some special guests, it’s the kind of weekend I look forward to.