Supernatural

Thale (2012)

Thale

Thale is based on the Scandinavian legend of the hulder. A huldra (the plural is hulder) is a female forest creature who has the ability to shift shape to lure young men into the forest (think a siren of the forest). Thale takes a slightly different approach to the usual “monster in the woods who eats people”.

The film follows Leo and Elvis played by Jon Sigve Skard (Hidden) and Erlend Nervold (Sirkel) respectively who are a cleaning company specialising in cleaning of crime scenes. Whilst Leo seems cut out for this life, a taciturn man who gets on with the job and does it well, Elvis is entirely unsuited for the gory work, when we first meet them cleaning up after a dead woman Elvis spends the entire time throwing up, adding to the mess rather than cleaning it. On their next job to tidy up after the death of an old man in the woods who has been dead for some time and partly eaten by wild animals the two discover a secret room. Leo, like a sensible person says they should wait for the authorities but Elvis has a different idea and not only goes down the stairs but through a series of underground rooms, touching things at will.

In the subterranean complex the two discover lots of out of date canned food before finding a more ominous room papered with pages from an encyclopaedia of human anatomy containing (amongst other things, a fridge, tape recorder and a bath filled with a milky liquid). It is from this bath that Thale rises from. Thale appears to be a very attractive, traumatised, mute young woman played by Silje Reinåmo (Patriot Act). It is clear from the start and her appearance from the milky bathtub that there is more to Thale than meets the eye but it is not until near the end of the film that the whole story becomes clear. Thale is a huldra of legend who was rescued by the deceased old man and hidden from the world in the remote underground rooms.

At 76 minutes long Thale is pretty short but it doesn’t feel rushed and being so compact doesn’t suffer from any dead or unnecessary scenes that can plague longer films. The whole film has a pared back feeling, with no accompanying soundtrack and a very small cast with only three main characters and maybe five or so supporting cast members meaning that the film is heavily reliant on the acting ability of three relatively unknown actors, which luckily is very good. Writer and director Aleksander Nordaas (Sirkel) does a marvellous job spreading the plot throughout the film, giving the audience just enough for them to guess what is happening without spoon feeding.

I would recommend Thale to both fans and non-fans of horror films as Nordaas’s eerie fairy tale stays with you for hours after watching.

Rating: 5/5

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Fun Fact: Director Nordaas has previously worked with both Skard and Nervold on several films including his first feature-length film, Sirkel which in English translates as ‘Circle’, a film I will be looking out for after watching Thale. Nordaas has also previously worked with Reinåmo on a short film called Bak lukkede dører (or ‘Behind Closed Doors’).

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Carrie (1976, 2002 and 2013)

Carrie

Three takes on Stephen King’s first novel centred around the eponymous Carrie White, played by Sissy Spacek (In the Bedroom, The Help), Angela Bettis (Perfume) and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In) in the 1976, 2002 and 2013 movies respectively, a shy, unpopular high school student who discovers she has telekinetic powers. All three give interesting portrayals of the troubled teen, each very different both in looks and attitude, including how easily they discover and practice their new found powers. Spacek’s Carrie seems almost unaware of the powers until towards the climax of the film, with the emerging powers starting subtly, whereas in both the later films Carrie practices the powers in her room. In the 2002 movie we see that Carrie has had these powers for a long time, including a very strange and unrealistic scene in which she causes a meteor shower, however the ability to move things with her mind does not come easily, looking more like a fit than anything voluntary. Moretz’s Carrie, however is less downtrodden, which is particularly evident in her relationship with her extremely Christian mother, Margaret White played by Julieanne Moore (Magnolia, The Big Lebowski). In the 2013 film, Mrs White is portrayed as much more mentally unstable than the earlier films, with an emphasis on self-harm which was not present in the other films.

The first key scene in all three films is Carrie getting her period in the locker room and freaking out, leading to her classmates bullying her with tampons and in all three the PE teacher, (Betty Buckley 1978, Rena Sofer 2002 and Judy Greer 2013) to have to slap her out of it, which to me seems very unrealistic, especially in this day and age. Sue Snell, one of the perpetrators then feels guilty and convinces her boyfriend, Tommy, to take Carrie to the prom in apology. Sue’s motives are best expressed in the 2013 film, with her decision to ask Tommy in the oldest film never really explained. At the prom, one of horror cinema’s most famous scenes takes place.

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In which a bucket of pigs blood is dumped over her head, finally tipping Carrie over the edge, releasing her pent up rage on her classmates and teachers at the prom. The ensuing disaster portrayed very differently in all three, with the apparently high death toll not apparent in the 1976 film as in the later films and the special effects in the 2002 film giving it an air of being in a video game. Unlike both the 1976 and 2002 films, in the latest film, directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), Carrie is fully aware and in control of the events, a feature I find does not fit with the feel of the film.

 

 

 

 

 

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The three films share many scenes in common (unlike Thirteen Ghosts), although updated to the era the film was made in, right down to the exact same dialogue, indeed most of the 1976 film (bar the ending) is replicated in the 2002 TV film, with a few added scenes accounting for the 34 minutes longer run time, however, saying this, the films have different endings with the 2002 departing completely from the book and the other films.

All three films have strong points and weak points, and any of the three is an enjoyable watch, I particularly like the 2002’s take on a film through police interviews and Bettis’s portrayal of Carrie however it lacks the polish of the other films, probably due to the much smaller budget of the TV movie. The 1976 film directed by Brian De Palma (Scarface) I feel has the best musical score by far but lacks the impact and full effect of the disaster that hits the town, which is best realised in the 2013 version.

I am not generally a fan of Steven King and Carrie does not sway me otherwise, I think the plot is thin and one dimensional and all the characters lack any nuances, because of this Carrie is a film you do not need your brain to be engaged with in order to understand what is going on. There is nothing to gain by watching all three films and unless you are a huge King fan I would recommend sticking to the original 70s version.