"When Animals Dream" (2015) d/ Jonas Alexander Arnby
September already? Time flies when you're sick as a beast. At least flight jacket weather is upon us, and I can look phenomenal while I'm doing it. A generous bowl of Monster cereal over here, please. I'd seen several trailers for this, the Danish horror debut of Jonas Alexander Arnby, and the foreign artsy-fartsiness on display, which normally never discourages me when I'm sitting down to a new horror film, was a big red light, in this case.Vampires translate well into arthouse as we've seen over the years, but werewolves? Too feral, too wild a subject to be handled with such flair, perhaps. Regardless, I gave it a look, and here's what I came up with...
"...still better than Kirsten Dunst."
Marie (Sonia Suhl) is a sixteen year old girl living on an island in Denmark with her folks, Thor (Lars Mikkelsen) and her mother (Sonja Richter), who's seemingly catatonic and wheelchair-bound. Marie spoon feeds her slop daily and tries to make a living at a nearby fish processing plant, where the other employees get their jollies by shoving her face first into a dumpster full of fish waste. Oh, you guys. Meanwhile, Marie is noticing some strange physiological changes to her growing body, most noticeably patches of fur, rashes, and bleeding fingernail beds. She begins to draw parallels to her mother's current condition, and begins an investigation of her own towards answers to all of her burning questions. She soon discovers that she may have inherited her mother's inexplicable malady, and her own father may be in cahoots with the local doctor in efforts to keep the family's monstrous medical history off of the minds of locals, who may or may not have the propensity to gather in posses under such circumstances, and hunt said monsters, of which Marie's family may have two card carrying members, to extinction, no less...
There's always one bald bully at the fish processing plant. Ever notice that?
After hijacking her mother's medical files and exploring a nearby rusty Russian sea vessel with obligatory old Eastern lycanthropy-style graffiti below in the shadows, Marie gets an idea of what she's in for, as a werewolf-to-be, that refuses the massive doses of sedatives that her mother requires to keep from sprouting fangs and tearing out throats, like she'd fancy, if she had her way. She decides she'd like to have some human sex, being ravaged by a handsome young villager before she's finally ravaged by fleas, and the lucky dong-donor is Daniel (Jakob Osterbro), a sympathetic shoulder who's blood-rager isn't diminished by suddenly feeling patches of hair on a chick's back, which would be a deal breaker for me, just saying. Daniel even takes Marie's back when the other townsfolk show their lycanthropophobia, and try to wack her out much later, when she's only achieved about thirty-five percent transformation, or so it looks. It takes a long time to become a werewolf, say this film's producers. A long time. Don't let that eighty-four minute run time fool you out there.
James Brown says you're "letting your backbone slide" all wrong.
In the end, the wanton artsiness on display here prohibited the film in my opinion from ripping the lid off in the final reel, for a Beast Within-esque, chunk blowing, genre finale, like most fans would have probably preferred, in favor of the nuance of artful subtlety. There's more werewolf in La lupa mannara (1976), ferchrissakes (Italoween III next month, by the way, so keep that in mind). What worked in Låt den rätte komma in (2008) came up short here. This one's a horror movie for the handlebar mustache and hipster scarf crowd. The cinematography is excellent, and an effective, creepy tone is maintained throughout, but there's nothing that could be mistaken for a scare in here to anybody that doesn't listen to David Byrne solo albums on purpose. Two wops isn't necessarily a bad score for most movies, but when you consider the unrealized potential of this production, it sort of doubles as one in this case. Pass.
The snout and the Wile E. Coyote ears would've killed you guys? C'maaaaahhhhn.