aka: Dark Woods
Director: Pål Øie
Starring: Bjørn Floberg, Kristoffer Jones, Eva Röse, Sampda Sharma, Marko Kanic
De skulle holdt seg unna det vannet
The newly gathered crew for the TV show “Real TV” is having a weekend of fun and team building out in the woods where the very controlling production boss Gunnar has a family owned cabin. The rest of the crew consists of childhood friends Lasse and Per and two girls named Elin and Sara.
It doesn’t take long before Gunnar has pushed the rest of the team too far, even making them fear the changes that they see in him. Things become even more disturbing when they find a dead body in the nearby lake, making them afraid that there might be more in these woods than what they expected.
Villmark, or Wilderness as would be the correct English translation, marks the start of a small bunch of horror films produced in Norway in the years from this was released and even up to today. According to the director, Villmark wasn’t really made with any genre in mind, but by the end of the production they did recognize that they in fact had a horror film in their hand.
The lack of focus on creating scares is very evident in the movie itself. It focuses more on the characters and doesn’t give any cheap and easy scares or any gore at all to please the horror crowd. It does feature plenty of great shots from the Norwegian woods though, which has sadly been underused in horror movies so far. There is plenty of potential in the great nature of our country and enough traditional folk tales that can be used as a premise for scary films.
The story is very basic and simple. Few things are really revealed about the characters, making the viewer fill in the blanks themselves which is strange considering they decided to spend a few minutes at the end to explain everything that had happened before the TV crew arrived at the cabin. I would honestly have prefered them to cut away all explanation at the end since it didn’t add anything at all and could rather have been left for the audience to interpret as they wished. And they could also have went another way with the terror/threat of the film aswell since it wasn’t something that hasn’t been done before in other horror films.
The characters, together with the atmospheric woods, do make the film work though. Kristoffer Joner, who is now one of our biggest movie stars, delivers a great performance as the cool but neurotic Lasse. Director Øie could leave the camera starring at Joner’s face for as long as he wanted and it would still end up becoming interesting. Bjørn Floberg is also superb as Gunnar, a character that we don’t really get under the skin of, but he still makes the character come to life balancing the madness and human aspect of the character quite well.
Villmark is an important film for horror fans from Norway, even though there have been better films released after it. It did kind of open up the doors for horror films to be made and become successful in Norway and should get respect for that aspect alone. It might be a bit too slow for modern horror fans and the last part will probably be a bit disappointing for some, but the atmosphere of the great dark woods should be enough to keep most viewers happy.