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Although Norwegian horror movies are not at the forefront, VillMark is certainly a movie that can be categorized as one that can bring the genre very close to it. The film is about a TV producer, Gunnar, who takes four individuals into the deep forests of Norway so that they may bond and prove to be a coherent team. Of course, being isolated in the woods in a cabin is just asking for trouble and, needless to say, bad things start to happen.
The introduction of things to come is by way of an old tape recorder found in the cabin that belonged to Gunnar’s family. The kids play with their new “toy” and upon playing the tape back hear a message that was recorded years ago when Gunnar, now a man perhaps in his late 40’s, was a child. We can hear the boy crying and a warning from someone who may have been either his father or grandfather warning to him to stay away from the pond. It is at this moment where we know that something is amiss at the pond. So what does one do when they are warned NOT to do something? You do it anyway out of curiosity.
The two young men, Lasse and Per, make their way near the pond where they find an old, what looks to be abandoned, campsite. Littered around the campsite are canned goods as well as expired food. Inside the tent, the boys find some booze, cigarettes and some German paraphernalia. It is here where Gunnar, having joined them, and the young men discover the body of a woman buried under the pond. Gunnar thinks it best to withhold their newly discovered information from the girls and decides not to alert the authorities until their weekend of bonding is over. Hmmm, weird.
After their discovery, it becomes evident that they are not alone in the woods and the movie takes a turn that will have you scratching your head for a good portion of its remainder. Why? Gunnar, for one, begins to act a little strange and his attitude towards the crew gets a little hostile and withdrawn. There are hints sprinkled at the audience that Gunnar has ghosts from the past and that perhaps he is not all there mentally. Going forward, the film takes on a very long mysterious note where nothing as dramatic as a death plays out during the film’s first 51 minutes given that this an 80 minute movie. DO NOT, however, let that detract you from seeing this movie as there are plenty of chills provided and a mystery that will keep you engaged and wondering what will happen next.
Lending to the mysterious feel of the movie is the fact that the movie was filmed in the Norwegian forests that have an almost fantasy-laden presence. Not when it’s dark as it brings out the creepiness rather than a Middle Earth feel. Most of the lighting in the film mimicked that of actual “natural” lighting, ie. flashlights that added to some realism. It is because of this that the filmmakers were able to capture an eerie atmosphere that made for much creepiness in the movie.
One hour into the movie, and it is made clear that there is someone/thing in the dark woods as one the crew members has gone missing. At 63 minutes into the film, finally, the unraveling begins! Yes, I know, very late into the movie, but well worth it. Not once did I find myself bored. As I mentioned prior, I was actually intrigued as the filmmakers poked the audience a couple of times with a few mysterious antidotes that kept, at least me, intrigued and yearning for more which paid off in the unraveling. It certainly kept me on my toes!
The film is very ambiguous which, by the end, becomes very thought provoking. There was much restraint from revealing too much and by the film’s conclusion when the credits were rolling you are still left with many questions to which there were no answers provided, hence, coming up with your answers/theories. Sometimes having loose ends make for great conversation and this is certainly a movie that will induce many. Is it scary? Maybe not so much for the horror aficionado, but for the common man (woman), yes, it is. It is not the type of horror movie where there are blood and guts galore but, rather, a psychological one which are my personal favorite in that you don’t have to check your brain in at the door. The film engages you to think a little and sort of puts the puzzles together although not many pieces are given to you. It isn’t until the end where some, not all, are given to you. The ending itself is up for debate but that’s a conversation you can have with your friends or loved ones after watching. It was billed as a slasher film but don’t go in expecting your typical slasher movie, ala, Friday the 13th.