The first feature film by Phil Sheerin, written by David Turpin, The Winter Lake is a decent entry into the psychological thriller genre.
Synopsis: Alienated, 16 year-old Tom (Anson Boon) has relocated from the UK to Ireland, with his Irish-born mother, Elaine (Charlie Murphy). While exploring the farmland, he comes across an odd finding in a seasonal lake, the skeleton of an infant. Not sure what to do, Tom hides the remains among his belongings.
Not long afterward, he and Elaine become involved with Ward (Michael McElhatton) and Holly (Emma Mackey), the father and daughter from the neighbouring farm. It quickly becomes clear the infant remains have something to do with Holly and her father. Playing on Tom’s attraction to her, Holly draws him into a violent confrontation with her father, who will do anything to keep this secret hidden.
The Winter Lake is a straight-forward psychological thriller. The premise contains formulaic elements of the genre, however, Mackey and Boon alongside veteran actors Murphy and McElhatton, excel in this twisted tale of loneliness, dark secrets, and a desperation to escape current circumstances. We believe them in their respective characters filled with foreboding.
As in many other thrillers, we (the audience) know things are not always what they seem. Elaine fills trapped and disconnected from Tom. While Tom has difficulty finding a place for himself at home and elsewhere. Then we have Holly, whom is just as unhappy as she is desperate to leave her rural home behind. Ward, although acting like an over protective parent, is a miserable and angry man. These are brewing grounds for conflict to be sure.
Although some dislike its slow pace, The Winter Lake does not disappoint. From the setting, sound design, casting, and cinematography, Sheerin’s directorial debut contains all the elements of a good movie. Hear more of my thoughts on the film below.
Content Warning: The Winter Lake implies elements of sexual violence / abuse.
The Winter Lake is now available on all streaming platform.