Monday, August 12, 2013

Thale (2012)

**This review contains spoilers**

Working together as a team in a covert Crime Scene Investigation clean up business, Elvis (Erlend Nervold) and Leo (Jon Sigve Skard) are given a peculiar assignment one day: Leo and Elvis are sent to a small cabin deep in the woods to clean up after the death of an old man.

Everything seems normal at first, until Leo and Elvis discover the old man’s secret hiding in the basement’s bathtub: Thale (Silje Reinamo) is a hulder, who can’t speak any words, and the sight of Leo and Elvis sends her into a panic. Thale immediately chokes Elvis, but Leo politely asks her to release the hold, and Thale agrees. Leo and Elvis listen to old tape recordings from the old man to try and figure out the mystery behind Thale and her past, but Leo, Elvis, and Thale are suddenly ambushed by a team of soldiers.

After the soldier’s failed attempts to break into the locked cabin, Leo and Elvis succumb to the clouds of smoke from sleeping gas grenades. During the interrogation outside, Leo and Elvis are at the mercy of the leader, Hvittkledd (Morten Andresen) and they’ll have to rely on Thale and the other hulders in the surrounding area for a rescue.

Sadly, there’s no real competition for the best performance here, because that honor easily goes to Silje Reinamo as Thale. Reinamo doesn’t speak a word here, but she’s able to creep you out with facial expressions. On top of that, the CGI cow’s tale helps, and Reinamo’s “attack mode” demeanor really pulls the character together. Plus, Reinamo is an attractive woman, and she’s in the nude a lot here. They really don’t show too much, but Reinamo never crosses into the territory of someone, who uses her good looks to seduce and deceive, and lure others into a trap. She’s not a femme fatale. Instead, she lets you know right up front that she’s not going to play any mind games, or use any tricks to take you out, and that’s a refreshing change that we don’t see too often in horror films for women with deadly powers or skills. Just take one long look at Reinamo (especially when you factor in the partial nudity), and you wouldn’t expect someone, who’s intimidating or menacing, so she deserves some extra credit for being able to give off the impression of Thale being someone, who you wouldn’t want to mess with at all.

Skard is okay at best, as the more sensible and calmer member of the team, who doesn’t crack under pressure. Nervold is the typical bumbling fool of a sidekick, but his performance borders on the lines of “not funny enough” and “too annoying” throughout the film. And Andersen as the leader? Egads, he’s horrible. I mean, Andersen’s performance is so bad, he drags the quality of the entire cast down a lot, and it’s a shame, because Andersen doesn’t appear until the tail end of the film, and his screen time is limited. But Andersen is hard to ignore, because a. he’s on the short list of characters here, who receive spoken dialogue, and  b. he’s just so awful.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the “awful CGI” in Thale, but I think those complaints are exaggerated. Yeah, the CGI isn’t the best in the world. In fact, it’s pretty mediocre, but from reading some of the other complaints, you’d think Thale had SyFy Channel movie quality special effects. That’s not true, because the CGI isn’t that bad.

CGI isn’t the biggest problem for Thale. Too many unanswered questions on the other hand? Now that’s a problem. To be mysterious, and leave a trail of bread crumbs behind, so the audience can draw their own conclusions of what might’ve happened or what will happen is one thing. But when you throw out so many “what if?” hurdles in the story, it just becomes frustrating, tiresome, and annoying. It’s like stuffing a small child’s backpack full of food and water, giving him or her about three hundred dollars worth of cash, a bus ticket, and then you push him or her out the door, tell them to figure it out, and lock the door behind them. So yeah, dropping little hints and clues to make the audience really think and use their imagination is one thing, but Thale crosses a too ambiguous line, and this really hurts the movie.

But after searching around, it looks like they’re going to do a sequel for Thale. Hopefully, they’ll take the time to answer some of the big questions in this film, and while I wasn’t too crazy about this one, I’d be willing to give a second film a chance.

Rating: 3/10

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