To The Lake is a Russian-language TV series directed by Pavel Kostomarov and starring Viktoriya Agalakova, Kirill Käro, Viktoriya Isakova, Gilli Messer, Aleksandr Robak, Maryana Spivak and Natalya Zemtsova.
To The Lake takes place after Moscow is gripped with an unknown virus that is causing death and devastation. It’s apparently air-borne, causes people to cough and also turns the eyes red. As the virus starts to spread, the government tries to (terribly) tackle the situation. Caught in this mess are two families, that of Sergey, consisting of wife Anna and son Mischa, ex-wife Ira and their son Anton, and father Boris, and also Lyonya, his spouse Marina and his daughter Polina. They try to escape the atrocities of the Moscow government and the virus and flee to an isolated lodge on a deserted island.
To the Lake takes its time to find its pace. The series starts off patiently and gives us hints and clues about what the virus is all about. Characters are set up and we see that all these characters have very distinct personalities. As the story progresses and the pace picks up, the series grows increasingly tense, and with everyone out to defend their own lives, it becomes increasingly dangerous for the group to stay alive.
One of the best parts of To The Lake is its characters. Most of the time, you don’t really get much in-depth attention to character building in stories involving deadly viruses, but this one does a spectacular job. Every single character has their own traits, all of them are well-established and nothing feels too expositional that it’d bore you. Since these characters have so much depth, you feel for them and their individual struggles as you go deeper into the story, and thus it keeps you hooked.
Additionally, there’s a lot of conflict amongst these characters. To The Lake, except for the fact that it is set up on the backdrop of a virus epidemic, feels more of a drama than a thriller. Sure, every scene is about survival and there are enough twists and turns to keep you at the edge of your seat, but most of the runtime focuses on these characters, their motivations, and relationship with each other, and how they react to situations.
It’s great to watch such well-rounded characters go through such extraordinary circumstances because it effectively draws you into the story more. Although I must say that it sometimes becomes annoying to watch them constantly bicker about something or the other, it’s mostly not very bad.
The story itself flows very well, with different things happening together. There’s a lot to keep you on your toes and wonder what will happen next. The entire series takes place during the harsh cold of Russia, and considering the epidemic, it’s a difficult situation to manoeuvre. To The Lake also focuses on the government’s absolute horrible measures to tackle the situation and there’s a hint of more sinister things at play.
Apart from these, the acting in the story is splendid. Right from Sergey to little Anton, the actors do a wonderful job at portraying the various flavours and nuances of their characters. Their portrayal of anger, jealousy, anguish and love is great and it will make you feel for all of the characters. Additionally, the cinematography and direction add the right amount of mystery and intrigue in the story. Almost all shots are cold and blue because of the extreme weather, and the camerawork is shaky. It captures the helplessness and anxiety of these characters pretty well.
Summing up: To The Lake
To The Lake drops on Netflix at a time when we ourselves are suffering from a ghastly pandemic. If you’re prone to anxiety surrounding these situations, this might just be a difficult watch. However, inspite of some very stupid decisions and character flaws, the series makes for a compelling watch and will keep you at the edge of your seat.
To The Lake is streaming on Netflix.
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