(director/writer: Taneli Mustonen; screenwriter: Aleksi Hyvärinen; cinematographer: Daniel Lindholm; editors: Aleksi Raij/ Toni Tikkanen; music: Panu Aaltio; cast: Teresa Palmer (Rachel), Steven Cree (Anthony), Barbara Marten (Helen), Tristan Ruggieri (Elliot, Nathan), Andres Laiapea (Villager), Ergo Küppas (Villager); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producer; Aleksi Hyvärinen: Shudder/RLJE Films; 2022-Finland-in English)
“The thrills never add up to emotionally move you.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A B-movie horror film by Finnish filmmaker Taneli Mustonen (“Lake Bodom”/”Ella and Friends”) done in English. It’s more or less effectively done as a folk horror pic, in the creepy kid subgenre. The best features seem to be its chilling atmosphere it creates and that its lead performer Teresa Palmer thrives in such horror pics (though not helped much here by the thin screenplay). There’s a lot missing that the better ghost films have going for them. Taneli Mustonen co-writes it with Aleksi Hyvärinen.
After a car accident takes the life of their son, Nathan, Rachel (Teresa Palmer) and her writer husband Anthony (Steven Cree), move across the globe to a spacious home in the rural Finnish countryside with the surviving twin child, Elliot (Tristan Ruggeri). They choose Finland to seek peace and start over because Anthony’s family is from Finland.
The tragedy has deeply affected the family, and Elliot can’t comprehend why Nathan is not with them. The kid feels bad living without his brother, and soon after he makes a wish on a strange, sacrificial rock found on a rafting trip he imagines he hears his brother telling him he will soon return.
Rachel can’t help the kid adjust, thinking he may be possessed. Her mental state is in disrepair, as she’s not able to recover psychologically from her son’s death and has ongoing nightmares. Hubby is too dull to help, and most of the locals don’t speak English and thereby offer little help, except for the eccentric Brit grandma-like figure of Helen (Barbara Marten).
Though not a terrible movie, it’s still at best only an average one. It’s stunted by too many genre cliches (the village idiot, pagan rituals and hidden family secrets), twists that come too fast and too late in the film’s third act, and that the thrills never add up to emotionally move you.
REVIEWED ON 5/17/2022 GRADE: C+