Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thale's Identity Might Be Best Forgotten: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by XLrator Media.

Director/writer: Aleksander Nordaas.

Cast: Silje Reinåmo, Erlend Nervold and Jon Sigve Skard.

There have been a number of films that have been flowing out of Norway, in recent years. Troll Hunter was a title that dealt with creatures of yore. This film released in 2010 to acclaim. The Cold Prey series of films also originated in this Scandinavian locale. Cold Prey was a slasher film that dealt with several unlucky hikers. Now, Norway and director Aleksander Nordaas have released a fantasy film titled Thale. The character Thale is a huldra, a mythical creature, which is an off-shoot of humanity. Thale's identity is at the core of the film. Slowly paced with very little tension, film fans might be best served searching for other titles from this smallish country.

The film begins with the characters Elvis (Erlend Nervold) and Leo (Jon Sigve Skard). They are partners in a cleaning business, that deals with the deceased. They are tasked with refurbishing a cabin out in some desolate woods. While cleaning, they find a hidden room, which houses a frightened woman, Thale (Silje Reinamo). She is mute, or unwilling to talk with Elvis and Leo. Then, the film slowly transcends into a character study, with a late climax offering a few tepid scenes, involving researchers.

The film's tone and genre seems to change throughout the film. It begins as a comedy and a buddy movie. However, the tone changes with the introduction of Thale. The film begins to show signs of suspense and mystery. Thale's origins are unknown and the experiments that she has undergone are only hinted at. Near the climax, the film turns into more of a fantasy feature. Several CGIed huldras emerge from the local woods to lay waste to a research team. Each of these tonal shifts are not brought with much energy or excitement. There are few thrills to be found here.

The pacing of the film is a detriment to its full potential. Events seem to go by at a snail's pace. There are several scenes of characters staring at each other. Or, Elvis is busy throwing up in a nearby bin. These scenes are repeated often and they become unnecessary over time. The film seemed hampered by a small budget. So, story elements are only developed slowly. This slow pacing will not be for everyone and this reviewer was hoping for more horror elements. The pacing is one of the film's weakest elements.

Thale is not a very compelling feature. It will not be for most people. Only a small minority of film fans will find something of value here. And, horror fans will be truly disappointed by this outing, despite some of the film's misleading promotional material. Films fans will find better entries from Norway in the films mentioned here, such as Troll Hunter and Cold Prey 2. Thale is just too small of a film to bring any true intrigue to the screen.

Overall: 6.25 out of 10 (characters are well developed, few thrills, small indie feature, explanations are not really given for much that happens in the film).

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