Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#1,031. Thale (2012)

Directed By: Aleksander Nordaas

Starring: Silje Reinåmo, Erlend Nervold, Jon Sigve Skard

Tag line: "In a cellar, dark and deep, I lay my dearest down to sleep; A secret they would like to keep"

Trivia: Director Nordaas shot the majority of this film in his father's basement

A perplexing mystery for much of its running time, director Aleksander Nordaas' 2012 film, Thale, might prove a frustrating experience for some viewers. Yet, in the end, it protects its secrets in such an intriguing way that you can't help but want to know more.

When the police are done carrying out their investigation, they call guys like Leo (Jon Sigve Skard) and Elvis (Erlend Nervold) to mop up the scene. Employed as forensic cleaners, these good pals have seen it all, but even they aren't prepared for what's waiting for them at their next job. Sent to a remote lakeside cabin to search for the remains of a recently deceased man, the two find a hidden entrance that leads to a basement laboratory, where they discover a naked young woman (Silje Reinåmo) hiding in a bathtub. She's unable to speak, but thanks to some audio tapes left behind by the dead man, they learn that the girl's name is Thale, and that she's been in this underground bunker for well over 20 years. As the two try to communicate with her, they make yet another startling discovery: Thale, who possesses unique powers, may not be entirely human!

Produced on an incredibly low-budget (most of the film was shot in a basement belonging to director Nordaas' father), Thale spends the majority of its first half raising a number of questions that it's in no hurry to answer. Where did Thale come from, and why was she kept in this cellar? What experiments was she subjected to? Who was conducting them? Who, or what, is watching them from the woods? Even Elvis and Leo seem to be hiding something, like why does Elvis continually ignore his cell phone? The riddles surrounding the two pals are eventually solved, while Thale herself remains an enigma throughout much of the film. Yet the fact there are so many unanswered questions leads to a few surprises along the way, including a finale that caught me completely off-guard.

A well-crafted blend of fantasy and modern horror, Thale might not answer all the queries it poses, but it answers enough of them to pique your curiosity.

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