Lempo Draws on Finnish Folklore, Filmmakers’ Upbringing

Story by Kris Ketonen, image courtesy of Sisaruus Productions

A Finnish demon, an intergenerational curse, and a love story: a short film being shot outside of Thunder Bay this summer has a lot to offer horror movie fans.

The film, titled Lempo, was written by Tina Petrick, and will be directed by her sister Laura-Lynn Petrick when cameras roll in Lappe this month. “I wrote this in the summer of 2021 at One Island Lake,” Tina says. “Ontario was under some pretty strict restrictions there, COVID-wise. I decided I should write something really hyper-local, something that only I could write that’s based on my childhood, my adolescence, where I’m from, my background.”

The film will be shot on location at One Island Lake, where the Petrick sisters spent a lot of time as children. “It’s our family’s homestead from our Finnish relatives, so there’s kind of already a sort of feeling out here of our family’s history, and also just Finnish immigration,” Laura-Lynn says. “My sister was really inspired by that in writing this.”

Story-wise, Lempo focuses on two childhood friends, Shaun and Annie, who find themselves spending the summer of 2004 in neighbouring cabins at the lake.

But as the cyclical return of the demon Lempo nears, Annie must make a decision: sacrifice herself to break an intergenerational curse, or trust in herself and fight back. 

But don’t expect a straight-up slasher flick. “It has this really lovely love story in it,” Tina says. “Before Christianity, Lempo was considered a god of love and fertility. And when Christianity took over Finland, they actually transformed Lempo to be a devil-like figure, like Satan himself. So the script itself kind of explores the dark sides of love and lust, and how love can sometimes be like a double-edged sword.”

Laura-Lynn says the aim is to shop the short around to festivals when it’s complete. But that won’t be the end of Lempo—a feature version of the story is also in the works. “We want to do this one really really well,” she says. “That’s why we’re asking for funding, so that we can just make it look as best as it can and bring in the right people.”

For more information about Lempo, visit lempothefilm.com. To donate to the production, visit the film’s crowdfunding page at seedandspark.com/fund/lempo-thefilm.