A “tail” worth checking out if it's in your area.
**** out of 5
Article first published as Movie Review: Thale on Blogcritics.
One of the fun things about watching foreign-language horror films is their use of folklore. While a lot of it may have worked its way into Hollywood, there’s just something extra special about watching a film from its homeland brought to life. I am in the minority who found Troll Hunter a complete bore, but the way it brought the story to life was far more interesting than what was just another found footage flick. This weekend sees the opening of another folklore-heavy film – this time from Norway involving forest nymphs or huldras – and while there may not be a lot of action or bloodshed, Thale is far more intriguing.
Elvis (Erlend Nervold) and Leo (Jon Sigve Skard) are crime scene cleaners, even if Elvis is just helping out and throws up every time he catches a rotten smell or spies something nasty. They get called out to a cabin in the woods to find the rest of a body that another crew only found half of. While investigating, Elvis discovers an entry down into a cellar. Inside the cellar they find an encyclopedia, expired canned goods, a tape recorder, and a bathtub filled to the brim with milky water. Inside another entry they discover a bedroom; turns out this room belongs to “Thale” (Silje Reinamo), a nude beauty who was hiding out in the water using a gas mask to breathe. Upon listening to the recordings, Elvis and Leo discover that someone “saved” Thale from her own kind but someone or something has come looking for her and can’t help but wonder if the cut-off tail in the freezer belongs to her.
Writer/director Aleksander Nordaas allows Thale to slow-burn. Things are discovered naturally either through listening to the recordings or using telepathy between Thale and her two guests. The climax may leave some wishing for a little more, seeing how there’s been nudity throughout the course of the film, but all the violence happens off screen. No real gore elements on display here, but with Evil Dead opening this weekend, there’s already more than enough of that to go around. Thale isn’t even really a horror movie anyway even if it resembles one on the surface. Instead it’s really the story of two friends trying to make it through horrible circumstances together. Something rather uncommon in most horror/thriller/suspense films these days and is more than welcome.
Thale is being presented by XLrator Media and opens today in the following areas: Seattle, Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Denver, and Portland. Thale is also available on VOD with a DVD/Blu-ray release later this month.