Review: Thale / Cert: 15 / Director: Aleksander Nordaas / Screenplay: Aleksander Nordaas / Starring: Silje Reinåmo, Erlend Nervold, Jon Sigve Skard / Release Date: March 25th
While on a routine job for a crime scene deep-clean company, Leo (Skard) and Elvis (Nervold) – who is just helping his brother out and clearly doesn't have the stomach for cleaning up the remains of the dead – come across a hidden room in an outhouse of a recently deceased loner. Amongst expired canned food, medical books, sketches and equipment they find a beautiful naked woman lying in a bathtub of white liquid. While the woman, known only as Thale (Reinåmo), is initially hostile, when faced with the kindness of the duo, she senses the pair pose no threat. The curious and empathic Elvis discovers how she got there through a series of tapes found lying around. Meanwhile something dangerous is coming.
Inspired by creatures of Norwegian folklore called huldra, and made with a very low budget, this is a low-key affair, but has some nicely handled scares early on, and an intriguing premise. Thale's origin as a wood nymph, plucked from her natural habitat and relieved of her one noticeable difference – her tail – taps into animal ecology issues, without ramming the message down your throat. There's great chemistry between the two male leads; siblings who have drifted apart and who each find out surprising things that have been kept from them. Reinåmo has an enigmatic beauty, alternating between tranquillity and danger. To writer/director Nordaas' credit, Thale's nakedness (a completely natural state for a huldra) is shot perfectly, in a manner that is in no way exploitative. The traditional folk-tinged score, reminiscent at times of the incidental music in The Wicker Man, adds to the eeriness.
It is only really the CGI that betrays the limited budget, but thankfully the animated creatures are not given an awful lot of screen time. Although marketed as a horror film, there's a much deeper story being told here.