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Sisters team up to produce a folk horror film in Thunder Bay

Lempo will tell the story of a demon from Finland who torments the immigrant family that he followed to Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY — Two women from the city have reached far back into their Finnish heritage for inspiration for a new horror film.

Tina Petrick is the screenwriter and producer of Lempo, and her sister Laura-Lynn Petrick is the director of the 45-minute motion picture.

Filming will begin in about two weeks at One Island Lake, where their family has had a camp for generations.

Set in 2004, Lempo tells the story of Shaun and Annie, who grew up together at the lake but fell out of touch over the years.

When they reunite in their mid-20s, their relationship is rekindled until Annie divulges her theory that her family is cursed by a demon from their ancestors' homeland.

Over the decades, he surfaces periodically to traumatize them, and as his cyclical return draws close, Annie wrestles with whether to give in to the curse or trust that love will help her put an end to the tragedies the family has endured.

The Petricks' own great-great-grandmother fled Russia-occupied Finland in the early 20th century to settle on a homestead outside Thunder Bay, at Intola.

"Our script is actually based on the journey that our great-great-grandparents went through to immigrate from Finland. The idea is that when our ancestors came over, they brought their Finnish demon with them. He haunts the camp at One Island Lake," Tina Petrick told TBnewswatch in an interview.

The sisters have an impressive track record.

"Laura-Lynn is an amazing director," Tina said. "She's directed over 110 different music videos, working for major labels like Sony, Universal and with really prestigious musicians as well."

Tina is a writer who published her first novel in April under a pen name.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was isolating at One Island Lake and decided she wanted to write something "that was hyper-local to Thunder Bay," she said.

"I developed the script for Lempo starting out with the scene of a bunch of friends hanging out in the sauna, drinking Crystal beer. When I was done, I sent it to my sister to read, and she fell in love with it. So we decided to pair up to make this film."

The film's five main characters and extras are all from the Thunder Bay area, and it will also feature locally-produced music.

After recently completing a cast read-through, the sisters are now in the process of rounding up camera equipment and props.

Through crowdfunding, they've received pledges of $8,250 toward a goal of $10,000 to cover their costs, meaning the project is already green-lit, but they still hope to get more contributions.

Anyone who makes a donation will receive a link to a digital copy of the film.

But Petrick said the two women have ambitious goals for distributing Lempo far beyond Northwestern Ontario.

"We're going to enter it in all the big short-film festivals around the world, hoping to get placed at something like TIFF or South by Southwest, or even Cannes. We're hoping for a really big premiere to attract the attention of distributors and investors with a view toward filming a feature-length version of the film,"

The production should be completed around the end of October.

The sisters are looking to screen it in Thunder Bay around Halloween, which Petrick said "would be really creepy and chilling and awesome, and a way to thank the community for their support."

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