aka: Villmark Asylum
Director: Pål Øie
Starring: Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen, Baard Owe, Renate Reinsve
They can demolish a building, but never remove the past
A group of experts are hired on a very short contract to investigate and evaluate an old sanitarium located in the middle of the woods. The sanitarium is scheduled to be shut down and demolished and the group only have a few days to deliver a report on the situation of the building that has previously been used as a mental institution and as a place to test potential medicine against tuberculosis.
The group are greeted by an old caretaker who has been alone with the place for several years. The stress of delivering results right away makes the team get busy as soon as they arrive. Their task doesn’t go quite as planned as they quickly realize that the history of the building is still very much alive and they might not be as alone in it as they first thought…
Villmark 2, which can be translated into Wild Woods in English, is the sequel to Pål Øie’s first full feature film back in 2003. This time it is set in an empty building, instead of being in a cabin out in the woods. Storywise it does connect, but this feels and looks like an entire different film entirely. It is more accessible and less “Norwegian” in a sense.
This one goes more for the horror crowd than the first film. It is however filled with too many cheap attempts at jump scares instead of being able to provide real fear and scares. Some of them feel a bit forces as it tries to feel modern and flashy, while the story itself could benefit from the exact opposite. It gives us plenty of the common horror tropes and fails to take full advantage of the great location it is being filmed in.
The story is very basic and doesn’t have much new to deliver. The horror element is also decent, but nothing spectacular. The actors and the general direction, outside of the horror parts, are done quite well. There is some atmosphere being created here, but it never becomes creepy or scary. The acting is quite good, with all the characters feeling distinct and real.
The biggest standout for me was the experience surrounding watching the film. I was lucky enough to see this film at the Ramaskrik festival in Oppdal, set out in the cold, dark woods. It was a perfect setting for a film like this and it provided a unique and cozy setting and it of course affects my view of the film. So two big thumbs up to the festival for doing that and also props to the director and stars of the film for attending it as well.
Villmark 2 is nothing spectacular. It is solid, but is unable to get under your skin. It goes for cheaper modern jump scares instead of setting up the real stuff. Even so though, it is still a solid enough film to make it a worthwhile watch.