WHEN ANIMALS DREAM [LONDON FILM FESTIVAL]

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MOVIE REVIEW: WHEN ANIMALS DREAM / CERT: TBC  / DIRECTOR: JONAS ALEXANDER ARNBY / SCREENPLAY: RASMUS BIRCH / STARRING: SONIA SUHL, LARS MIKKELSEN, SONJA RICHTER / RELEASE DATE: TBC

What's with women and werewolves? Filmmakers are obsessed with the idea that because ladies spill some blood each month (and maybe get a little tetchy), they must be howling at the moon while they do it. Since when did bloodletting equal bloodlust? After all, we all go a little hairy sometimes.

When Animals Dream offers another in a long line of teen girls who is struggling to cope with the fact that she has hair sprouting from her chest and is prone to suddenly fly into a dangerous rage. Marie lives with her parents in a remote fishing village on the coast of Denmark. Her father is protective and secretive and her mother is heavily sedated and wheelchair-bound. When Marie starts work at the local fish factory, the boys seem to have their eyes on her, but it is unclear whether it is out of lust or suspicion. After seeing her doctor about a skin rash, she begins sprouting thick hair on her chest as a transformation slowly begins.

Set in a gloomy, isolated coastal community where very few women even seem to exist, When Animals Dream makes its heroine’s discomfort with her surroundings clear from the start. The men appear like predators, a close knit community that prey on easy target Marie, humiliating and attacking her. However, as she discovers a lust for boys, namely local stud Daniel; it triggers the beast to be unleashed within her. Probed by the local doctor, hidden away by her father and eyed-up by fish factory men, Marie's transformation cannot be repressed and her declaration 'I'm transforming into a monster' is part chat up line, part empowering admission.

When Animals Dream deals with the shame that young women might feel over their primal urges after puberty. Like Ginger Snaps before it, Marie learns to accept her newfound lust and embrace it, even if the rest of society wants to control and contain it. The problem is, this has all been said before and better.

Despite decent central performances, particularly from Lars Mikkelsen as the worried father and Sonia Suhl in her debut as the monstrous Marie, When Animals Dream fails to transform effectively from chilly drama to full-blooded werewolf movie. It’s certainly not a howler, but with a lack of real originality, it’s hard to sink your teeth into.

Expected Rating: 6 out of 10
Actual Rating:

 


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