(director/writer: Patrick von Barkenberg; screenwriter: Andréa Winter; cinematographer: Thomas Rist; editor: Matteo Marchisano-Adamo; music: Andréa Winter; cast: Andréa Winter (Robin Richards), Patrick von Barkenberg (Teddy), Bauer (Hunting Dog), Rolf Brunnström (Rolf), Ingrid Hedström (Ingrid), Jakob Brunnström Hedström (Farmer’s son), Linda Dahlin (The wife), Christer Cavallius (Hans Bubi), Ellinor Berglund (Elsa); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Andréa Winter; Artsploitation Films; 2018-Sweden-in Swedish with English subtitles)
“This low-budget horror-comedy thriller is as bizarre as it is visually beautiful and empty.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This low-budget horror-comedy thriller is as bizarre as it is visually beautiful and empty. It’s modeled after James Kenelm Clarke’s weird and nasty pic The House on Straw Hill. The exploitation film marks the feature film directorial debut by the actor Patrick von Barkenberg, and is co-written by von Barkenberg and Andréa Winter. He has a small role as Winter’s boyfriend, while in her debut acting role she’s just OK as the lead actress. The target audience is probably those looking for a different kind of fright pic and those who can find humor in its weirdness without needing the weird explained. Others might be better off avoiding this flick.
When a popular author is faced with her latest novel flopping with the critics, “Return to Blood Paradise,” (a sequel to her biggest success, Blood Paradise), the sexy best-selling American crime writer Robin Richards (Andréa Winter) reacts without being too concerned about the critics ripping into her and devotes herself to enjoying the good life and having bondage sex with her hunky boyfriend Teddy (Patrick von Barkenberg) in her luxurious home. At this time, her concerned publisher talks her into going to a small farm as a retreat.It’s without phone service (landline or mobile) in the Swedish countryside, as the plan is for her be free of distractions and to find a way to regain her creative touch. She signs on expecting her boyfriend to join her (but he never does).
Arriving in the small rural town by train, the bumbling and grating driver (Christer Cavallius), a big fan of her novels, meets her at the station and takes her to the retreat. He introduces her to his strange wife (Ellinor Berglund), who he is forever arguing with. The creepy farm is run by the elderly Swede (Rolf Brunnström) and his not too talkative sister (Ingrid Hedström). The eerie atmosphere, a barn with strange noises is made off-limits and her clothes are snatched, spells future trouble. The tension builds as the eccentric people on the farm all do their weird thing. In the third act things turn giallo-like, as a victim and a killer get locked into a gory cat and mouse game. Many of the farm tools we have been eyeballing are soon used to slice up body parts. One can now assume the novelist has overcome her writer’s block and has gotten her inspiration for her next novel.
Even if this senseless gonzo film is well-crafted and the filmmaker shows some talent, the blend of nasty horror and weird comedy here didn’t work.
REVIEWED ON 9/2/2019 GRADE: C+