Today: April 24, 2024

Thale

Following the success of André Øvredal’s Troll Hunter, director Aleksander Nordaas borrows from the style of Guillermo Del Toro to try his hand at Norwegian folklore with Thale: a dark and unnerving fairy tale.

Following the success of André
Øvredal’s Troll Hunter, director Aleksander Nordaas borrows from the style of
Guillermo Del Toro to try his hand at Norwegian folklore with Thale: a dark and unnerving fairy tale.

Professional
crime scene cleaner Leo (Jon Sigve Skard)
works alongside stand-in Elvis (Erlend
Nervold
) mopping up the fetid remains of dead bodies. Whilst Leo carries on straight-faced, Elvis
struggles with the gruesome task as two are sent to clear up the entrail-strewn
scene of an old man’s death in a remote cabin in the woods. Looking around the cabin, Elvis comes
across a hidden laboratory in the basement with experimental equipment, anatomy
books, tins of out-of-date food, a bathtub and a mini fridge with unknown
contents. Alongside these are a
series of voice-recorded journal tapes of the now dead man with shocking sounds
of a woman’s screams. Just then Elvis
is alarmed to discover a woman emerging from the bathtub. Beautiful and mysterious, the woman is
Thale (Silje Reinåmo), the screaming voice on the tapes and the owner of the
strange contents in the fridge who has been kept alive through feeding tubes. Leo and Elvis must discover why Thale
is here and just who – or what – she is. Meanwhile, an
unseen, sinister presence is watching from the woods.

The story of
Thale is based on a seductive forest creature found in Scandinavian
mythology: the Huldra. A beautiful, naked woman with long,
flowing hair, The Huldra has the tale of an animal. She is kind to men who treat her with respect, but if
treated badly she will remind
him that she is far from weak, often by straightening out a horseshoe with her
bare hands. This mythical theme is
handled well with plenty of references and a fairy tale forest setting. The film is certainly intriguing from
the outset, emitting an increasing sense of dread and suspense. Nordaas cleverly uses slow pacing to
drip feed answers and lead the viewer’s thoughts in different directions. The first half of the film is filled
with suggestions of captivity and sexual assault, with the audio tapes suggesting
that Thale endured some kind of experimentation. She still exhibits a childlike dependence on this man as she
grasps his discarded clothing and hankers after his voice on the tape. However you can never be sure if
everything is as it seems. The
tension mounts in various scenes, particularly when Thale flees to a tiny
hidden room, hiding under the little bed and humming a lullaby. There is a tremendous sense of unease
as Elvis lies on the floor alongside this unknown creature, humming with her as
a way of communication. The pace
increases in the film’s second half with themes of government cover-ups and
scientific experimentation, but unfortunately many questions are still left unanswered. With a short running time, a little
more could have been done to resolve this.

While not breath-taking,
the CGI special effects in Thale are fairly professional considering this is a
low budget first feature for Nordaas with only a small crew. Silje Reinåmo is excellent as the
mysterious and near silent Thale with her wild eyes, dishevelled hair and rough
beauty, displaying an animalistic but innocent demeanour. Both Nervold as the nervous and troubled
Elvis and Skard as the indifferent and composed Leo give steady, believable
performances with just the right amount of emotion when it comes to their
characters’ back stories.

Thale is an
interesting story of folklore that is slightly lacking but it is chilling and
suspenseful while also quite sweet and is a noteworthy attempt at a fairy tale
immersed in a world of secrets.

Misha Wallace - Social Media Editor

From the age of 4, Misha Wallace became transfixed by movies like Halloween and The Birds from behind the couch, unbeknownst to her family. This has developed in to an obsession with fantasy and horror films (and a considerable number of cheesy 80s and 90s flicks – but she will not be judged). If she was a character in a film she'd be the girl at the end of a horror movie, doused in blood but grinning victorious. Email: misha.wallace@filmjuice.com or find her any time of the day or night on FilmJuice social media.

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