Thursday, August 21, 2014

Streaming treat: Aleksander Nordaas' THALE proves near-perfect little sci-fi/fantasy scare-fest

Netflix streaming has a reputation for offering thousands of movies of which most Americans have never heard. While this is indeed true, that doesn't mean that plenty of these films aren't worth watching. They absolutely are, and one such in the small Norwegian movie that has recently appeared on the streaming facility entitled THALE.  The title character is evidently a creature of Norwegian myth: a beautiful but mute young woman who, among other things, sports a tail.

Writer/director Aleksander Nordaas, shown at left, has managed within a mere 76 minutes to offer up a sleek, mini-budget sci-fi/fantasy/thriller/horror film that does just about everything right. The filmmaker doles out his information in exactly the right amount and at exactly the right time so that we move quickly ahead, piecing together the information we have, while arriving at the right conclusion almost pre-cisely when the movie itself does. We're never far behind nor ahead, and so the suspense, along with the ever-present question of what's going on and why, is immediate and enormous.

The fact that our heroes, Elvis (Erlend Nervold, above), and Leo (John Signe Skard, below), are working as crime-scene cleaner-uppers adds immensely to the movie's quirky, off-kilter charm and ick-factor,

while the casting of the beautiful and talented Silje Reinåmo (below) as the title creature is a real coup. Ms Reinåmo is quite a find as she creates a full-bodied being that is equal parts frightening and provocative. We never quite know where she stands (or sits or crawls), and that is all for the best.

Basically -- and acting-wise -- the movie is a three-hander, though via some backstory, we get glimpses of Thale's "mentor," as well as some of the government guys who are (surprise!) up to no good. And while all this is woven into the tight screenplay quite cleverly, it never detracts from the matters at hand: Who is this girl/thing, and what should be done with and about her?

How Nordaas brings all of this to fruition is a mini marvel: fast, sometimes funny, even quite moving at a couple of junctures. The special effects are small and sparse, but they work beautifully to capture the strangeness inherent in the movie.

Thale is everything you want a film like this to be but rarely find.
Miss it at your peril.

You can stream it now via Netflix and elsewhere, but I don't think it's available yet -- or maybe ever -- on our-region DVD.

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