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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thale (2012) Horror Folklore Huldra

Thale (2012) - After seeing the very enjoyable Trollhunter (2010) the trailer for this film made me a bit excited. I was again going to delve into the folklore of Norway in the form of a film. In this case it is a story centered around the myth of the Huldra, sort of forest sirens who lure men into the woods and suck the life out of them.  Now I am finding my ability to put coherent thoughts together challenging today so I hope this does not meander too much. The movie itself is a bit of a journey, told through flashbacks and voice overs with a present that focuses on the two main characters as they sit around waiting. The story centers around a couple of crime scene clean up servicemen, Leo (Jon Sigve Skard) and Elvis (Erlend Nervold) who are out at a cabin doing their jobs at a messy murder scene. Finding a hidden room the two are surprised to find a beautiful young nude woman who they learn is named Thale (Silje Reinamo). She is not all there from what they can tell and as Elvis starts investigating the journals and tapes of the old dead man who lived there they discover something very surprising about her.
Slow to start in its development with the two workers appearing to be estranged friends. They have a distant yet friendly approach with each other that leads the viewer to believe they were once close. So part of the story is them moving past whatever has been in the way of there relationship and into a new place. Elvis even though he is at a crime scene is not as professional as Leo and thus touches way too many things. When he touches a pump that leads into a tub it awakes Thale the girl from the woods who is sleeping deep under some milky fluid. This changes everything, Leo has called in and Einer his boss is on the way with more men so the two workers must wait and watch Thale until they arrive. We learn a good deal about the back stories of the men, Elvis with a child out of wedlock he is struggling to support. Leo who has learned that he has cancer knows that the end is already just around the corner for him. 
  Through tapes of the old man and some rather unique telepathy between Thale and Elvis we learn her story. She is a Huldra who was found as a child by the old man. He kept her and raised her and saw her grow at a fast rate, in nine years she looks twenty. The man was some sort of doctor and did some rather cruel experiments on her trying to force her into human like form. The thing with the huldra is they can sense each other and the man tried to prevent them from finding Thale hoping by changing her he and his mysterious accomplices could study her. The creatures are adaptive and so Thale took on a human form except for her cows tale, and in the end though she was still a beast, stronger than a man and nonverbal.
  The myth in a modern story is an enjoyable way to learn about foreign cultures and this one although a bit slow in developing shows the viewer that the creatures may be changed but are still not human. Suppressing the nature of the beast does not take the beast out. In the myths the Huldra are irresistible and it is Elvis who is so taken by this beautiful creature. He feels a connection and when they touch he sees the past of poor Thale through visions. Even though it is quite obvious that the sisters of Thale, the ugly wild beasts roaming the forest are on the prowl for her the men are not at first aware adding an element of suspense. We learn all about the story behind the creature through the psychic flashbacks and the narration of the long dead doctor. It is a sad tale of a man who knows he has done wrong but feels like there is no escape.
  When the doctors associates capture the men the rest of the story becomes about finding Thale. He can't have any witnesses but since Thale went missing when the guys passed out there is time to interrogate them to find her whereabouts. The last part of the film is really cool and we learn what Thale can really do when pushed.
  A fine small film by Director Aleksander Nordaas with some good special effects about the only thing that is a bit off putting is the really happy ending. Still I really enjoyed the film even if it was somewhat one note in its approach, with soft whining string music setting a very melancholy mood for most of it. I am often very surprised at the quality and complexity of foreign horror. In the states so much of the horror films are a killer and a twist that it is refreshing just to see something you can say is original. This is one of those movies. While not for everyone, particularly if you like a quick pace it is a film I think is worth a watch.

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