July 6, 2013

Thale (2012)

Directed by Aleksander Nordaas. Starring Silje Reinåmo ("Thale"), Erlend Nervold ("Elivs"), Jon Sigve Skard ("Leo"), and Morten Andresen ("Hvittkledd"). Not Rated.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Xlrator/Arc Entertainment)
Running time: 01:17:53
Country: Norway

When pals Elvis and Leo of "No Shit Cleaning Service" are hired to gut an abandoned house, they make some strange discoveries - not the least of which is a naked woman submerged in a bathtub full of milk and breathing out of a tube. There's obviously a lot more to this story as it pertains to why this naked woman is all alone in a decrepit house, but the most important observation that our lead characters make is an unusual scar above the woman's butt. As it's revealed sooner than later, the woman once had a tail, but it's been removed and placed elsewhere in the house for whatever reason. The woman's background is gradually brought to light through various clues (or, in the viewer's case, flashback scenes and whatnot).

THALE (also the name given to the aforementioned female character) is basically your standard "feral woman" type of story, albeit with a folkloric mythology in regards to the female character. For having such a short running time, THALE kinda drags in spots, especially during the first half as it struggles to build any sort of momentum. It isn't long before Elvis and Leo discover the woman in a hidden room of the house, but there isn't a whole lot that happens subsequent to that, plot-wise. We get to know the male characters a little, either through their interactions with each other (or lack thereof) or just through their personalities and how they each react to the situation they're faced with. It goes without saying, though, that the most interesting of the three central characters is Thale herself.

Thale is confused upon being discovered and initially reacts with violence, but why? Presumably for the same reason that most feral humans in these types of films react with violence: because they're scared and are unaware of who's trying to help them or hurt them. But in the case of Thale, is she aggressively defensive because of an abusive past, or it merely an instinctive reaction. Given the circumstances, you'll inherently want to know more about her, and this is one of the few elements of the film that keeps it afloat - at least for the first two-thirds anyway. Thankfully, things pick up considerably once more characters come into the picture to shake things up. Some interesting revelations are made, there are some decent pay-offs with Thale, and the mythology behind Thale is refreshing and kind of unique.

Kim Coates?!

Writer/director Aleksander Nordaas puts a lot of emphasis on the characters rather than story or action, so if you go into this expecting an exciting, plot-driven film, don't. Not that there's a problem with character-driven Horror/Fantasy movies or anything, but in this case the characters just aren't very interesting. Leo, for example, is pretty dull throughout (he basically has zero reaction to Thale once she's discovered); he's eventually put in a position where the viewer is able to sympathize with him, but for me personally it was too late by that point and I just didn't care. Elvis is sort of a nervous, curious type of person (presumably to drastically contrast Leo) and he doesn't possess any qualities that would make him unlikable per se, but, again, I could've cared less about him in the end. Thale, on the other hand and for reasons mentioned above, is a very interesting character; part of this is inherent due to the nature of the character, but some credit should also go to how the character is presented throughout the film and how she's portrayed by actress Silje Reinåmo.

Overall, THALE is pretty solid from a technical, atmospheric, and visual standpoint when you consider its low budget. It looks a bit too "digital" if you know what I mean, but Nordaas seemingly tries his best to make it as cinematic as possible with lighting, set decoration, etc. with the resources he was provided. The biggest problem I had with the film, personally, is that it's just really boring. As I said, it takes a while to get going and it's not the most well-paced film, but the last third pretty much makes everything leading up to it worthwhile. THALE doesn't get a huge recommendation from me, but I wouldn't discourage anyone from seeing it. Nordaas seems like a promising Horror director with a knack for style and neat visuals, and Silje Reinåmo is certainly an actress who I would love to see more of in the future.

Score: 6.5

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