Another small town. Another deep, dark secret. This time the setting is the Sligo area in the west of the picturesque country of Ireland. Different place same story. Director Phil Sheerin’s first feature film features a dark coming of age story. Teenagers. Rural area. Animal skulls. Looming violence. The body of an infant washed up in a bag. A mystery to be unravelled. Revealed it will be piece by piece. Getting more and more ominous as the film advances.
Living on your great grandfather’s farmhouse in a very rural area in the western part of Ireland is not what dreams are made of for a teenage boy. Even one like Tom (Anson Boon – 1917, Blackbird), who is an introvert. The move from the city to the countryside is complicated by how his mother Elaine (Charlie Murphy – from television’s Peaky Blinders) feels about it. The answer to that is feeling very bitter about whatever her son did to bring about the move.
To get away from it all, Tom spends his days wandering around seeking out animal skulls to add to his collection. While out and about he runs into a fellow teen. She is a neighbour and her name is Holly (Emma Mackey – from television’s Sex Education). Holly is what most adults would classify as trouble. Soon she has taught him how to steal coins from the machines at the casino. Tom is at times overwhelmed by Holly and her life which includes no boundaries, her scary father and sneering ex, Col (Mark McKenna – Overlord).
The tension is ramped up when, while on his bone search, Tom finds a bag. Not just a bag but one which has washed up onshore and contains the body of an infant. Who? Why? When? Many questions begin to crop up. When some light begins to stream into the mystery it brings with it the threat of violence and the indication of a long ago transgression.
Extreme family dynamics, loneliness, violence, and long held secrets make up the backbone of the film. Plenty is packed into the 92 minutes. It is often slow and always dark. Couple all that with sage directing, an involving story and solid acting by the entire cast and you get a different kind of film which will enrapture many.
The Winter Lake is available on VOD on Amazon Prime and Google Play.