Thale DVD Review
Written and directed by Aleksander Nordaas
2012, Region 1 (NTSC), 77 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on April 23rd, 2013
Silje Reinåmo as Thale
Erlend Nervold as Elvis
Jon Sigve Skard as Leo
Morten Andresen as Hvittkledd
Roland Astrand (voice)
Leo and Elvis are just a couple of regular guys who happen to clean up death scenes. Be it murder or natural causes, they are the ones who make things neat again. As we see from go, Leo is the more experienced of the two because he isn't the one puking up his breakfast in the first cleaning of the day.
After that somewhat bloody job, the two are sent to another gig where only half of the deceased had been discovered, so their job is two-fold: scrub down the place and find the remainder of the old man that lived there. It isn't long before they discover not what's left of his body, but science gadgets, medical books, a plethora of notes, and oh yeah, that woman he's been hiding in a secret part of his house. And her story is really what this movie is all about.
Thale is one of those movies that you desperately want to recommend to everyone, yet at the same time restrain from doing so because you know it's not a film for everyone (even though it should be). With a runtime of just 77 minutes, the movie feels more like an extended version of the better X-Files episodes (read that as just about anything up through season four). It's creepy, it has a mysterious government agent and it has monsters (albeit brief glimpses). It's one of those types of movies where it takes its time getting to its point, and it's done well enough that you don't mind a bit because you are enjoying the trip.
One of the impressive things about Thale is how it tells its story. There's not a tremendous amount of dialog from the main characters in the film. Most of the exposition comes from the dead man's recorded voice, some of it from the mysterious government suit (who isn't wearing a suit, or even says he's government, you just know) and the rest from the flashbacks our titular character forces on Elvis (she has a magic touch, you see). Usually I groan at exposition, but here it's handled well and doesn't seem contrived.
Yet a story is nothing without someone to tell it, and Thale has some fantastic performers delivering the lines…or acting line-free in one case. Erlend Nervold and Jon Sigve Skard are wonderful as Elvis and Leo (respectively). They portray very different characters, each excelling in his particular role. Skard is fantastic as Leo, the more experienced and level-headed of the two. Much of the movie finds Leo trying to provide Elvis with direction, although the rookie constantly ignores his mentor. And yet, even so, Leo never gets angry, judgmental or loses his cool. His collected demeanor makes you instantly like him.
Skard does a fine job with his Elvis, too, but his performance doesn't stand out until towards the end of the film when he thinks he's going to die. That's when Skard amps it up a notch and you quickly find yourself believing in his fear.
The real standout, though, is Silje Reinåmo as Thale, the captive (and stunning) young lady who holds all the secrets. Without a line uttered throughout the film, Reinåmo manages to get the character's story across flawlessly through a range of facial emotion and body language. Fear, anger, confusion, content, and more are all on display throughout the movie, and every bit of it is believable. Yes, each actor is great, but Reinåmo is the glue that holds it all together.
Thale really isn't a horror film, and it's unfair that the trailers I've seen pimp it as such. But I am stumped on what it actually is. There are not enough scares to make it horror, not enough sci-fi to make it completely sci-fi, and not enough fantasy (and there is that element of it, especially considering that movie is based on Norwegian folklore) to label it that. Sci-fantahorror maybe? I don't know, it doesn't matter. All that matters is if you are the type that enjoys a quiet, slow burn of a film, give Thale a spin.
Video and Audio:
Thale's 1:78:1 anamorphic presentation is more than respectable. The colors pop and the image always crisp.
The Norwegian 5.1 audio is quite sufficient. This is not a film that demands your system get a work out, and does admirably when necessary. There is also a English 2.0 dub available, but I did not bother with it. Since I'm capable of reading, the English subtitles suited me just fine.
Just a lone trailer for the film is offered as a special feature. It's interesting to watch after seeing the movie, though, as the trailer is a far cry darker than what the finished product is on the disc. One has to wonder if that was intentional to make the film appear to be scarier than it actually is, and if so, shame on you whoever responsible.
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