- Release Date: 3/21/2013
- Written By: Aleksander Nordaas
- Directed By: Aleksander Nordaas
- Starring: Morten Andresen, Erlend Nervold, Jon Sigve Skard, Silje Reinamo
I actually had the honor of seeing THALE as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival last year, and remember rather liking the weird film. Now, as THALE officially comes stateside, I watched it again with the intent to review. Lucky for you I liked it just as much upon a second viewing.
The Norwegian film opens with an elderly man’s voice on a tape recorder that ends in screaming. The tape recorder, a veteran plot device from such films as EVIL DEAD and HOME ALONE 2 and any political thriller from the 70′s, is used to great effect in this film, even if it’s perhaps overwrought and used too much.
THALE is a fairly short film, but seems about the right length. It’s tight, lean storytelling with more plot than plodding build up. Leo and Elvis, two 20-something slobs, are cleaning up a bloody, gross mess in yellow jumpsuits. Well, one is cleaning. Leo is nonchalant, nonplussed and has no qualms picking up the remains of the massacred dead body. The film treats this happenstance the same way, not giving us any sort of inkling of what went down. Elvis, who is filling in on the job, is also filling his vomit into buckets, adding to the mess rather than helping.
Turns out there is another body elsewhere, where the rest of the cleaning crew is occupied and will be occupied for the entire movie. That leaves Leo and Elvis to discover the secrets of this newly abandoned lake house on their own. As is often the case, the answer lies in the basement, a dingy, dark, cobwebbed den with jars of… things — canned goods that expired in the 80’s and a ton of weird scientific contraptions. While Leo makes a phone call, Elvis plays with the aforementioned tape recorder, and is soon choked out by a naked, wild eyed woman who emerges from the depths of a milky white tub. Nice to meet you Thale!
After Leo talks her down, they begin to realize that Thale has lived down here for many years under the watchful eye of the man narrating on the tape, that she’s different, a feral woman of the woods kind of deal, who may or may not be able to understand them, but has somehow survived without food and water for an indeterminate amount of time. That’s just the beginning.
While THALE bathes in clichés, such as the tape recorder as storyteller and the innocent, nubile woman who’s dangerous and different, THALE works because of its small character moments between Leo and Elvis and Thale, as they discover this bizarre world together. Actors Erlend Nervold and Jon Sigve Skard are great, especially with scant dialogue throughout. Nervold’s certainly a good puker.
Yes, too much of the plot comes from an old man describing Thale’s upbringing and where she comes from, but the flashbacks are effective, and how it comes full circle is especially satisfying. We learn that there are more of Thale’s kind, and that they might be a tad more savage than she is (duh), having lived out in the wild. But they’re not the only one’s looking for her. THALE gives a Norwegian twist on a familiar tale, but with its character moments and ingenuity, makes it well worth the quick ride.
The film comes out on VOD on March 21st, will have a limited theatrical run starting April 5th, and comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray April 23rd.
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