21 October 2014

WHEN ANIMALS DREAM

WHEN ANIMALS DREAM

Original Title: 
Når dyrene drømmer

Denmark, 2014
Director: Jonas Alexander Arnby

8/10









Without any expectations, I went to one of our local arthouse screenings to see a film I've never heard of before - and to my great joy, it turned out to be a shockingly great film. The feature debut of Danish filmmaker Jonas Alexander Arnby follows a young girl in a remote fishing village who thinks that she has inherited the same strange disease that keeps her mother bound to a wheelchair - until she realizes that it's not a disease: she's "simply" turning into a werewolf!

By combining elements of the Swedish "Let The Right One In" (loneliness, outsiderdom) with the coming-of-age arc of the Canadian "Ginger Snaps" trilogy, Arnby delivers a powerful and impressive take on the werewolf genre; probably a bit underwhelming for gorehounds and hardcore werewolf freaks, but highly satisfying for people who enjoy the artsier side of horror. "When Animals Dream" feels almost as if directed by a young Thomas Vinterberg.


The movie is calm and slow, but never boring or tedious, thanks to Arnby's excellent direction and the intriguing story / screenplay by Rasmus Birch ("Brotherhood"). It starts out slow, but slowly becomes creepier and creepier until it culminates in an unexpectedly uncommon and highly interesting finale. Cameraman Niels Thastum perfectly captures the solitary landscapes and beautiful rugged coasts of the small village, and composer Mikkel Hess ("All For Two") stunningly accompanies the fascinating cinematography with sinister strings and vibrating electro music.

The performance of main actress Sonia Suhl (one of her very first on-screen roles) is simply mindblowing. Aside from looking damn gorgeous, she's an absolutely fantastic actress and has terrific screen presence. Next to her, we get to see some more fine acting by Lars Mikkelsen (brother of Mads), the wonderful Sonja Richter, the somehow mean-looking Gustav Dyekjær Giese, and Esben Dalgaard as super-beardy bad guy.


"When Animals Dream" is not a groundbreaking movie, but it's definitely an excellent turn on the werewolf genre, and together with "Late Phases", it proves that this genre is far from being dead. Arthouse horror at its best!

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