Norwegian folklore turns out to be real when Leo and Elvis encounter Thale in a basement.
A Tale To Remember, Maybe, But Probably Not
Writer/Director Aleksander Nordaas has a film that sadly fails to live up to the potential of its unique premise. All of its problems are on paper, with the script. I came away enjoying the actor’s performances, the direction, and the design of the film, but the whole piece is ultimately let down by the plot that fails to hold it all together. In a word, un-compelling. In another word, unsatisfying.
The essence of the film is mystery. Our pair of cleaners discover a woman locked away in a hidden basement in the woods. The majority of the hour plus run-time is spent slowly dripping out “discoveries” about our characters, but almost all of our revelations could have been discerned by the audience within minutes of the film just by looking at the evidence in plain view. If I recall, it takes nearly 30 minutes for our cleaners to realize the “woman” they’ve discovered is no ordinary woman. Seriously, you find a live person submerged in a full liquid bathtub. Said bathtub is hidden away in a room that’s not been entered into in years, maybe decades. No evidence of food, but yet the woman looks as vibrant as though she’d never missed a meal. It’s a non-mystery that the audience doesn’t need to be fed when they’re seeing a film called THALE. Imagine a film called BIGFOOT where the characters discover an actual Bigfoot and proceed for 30 minutes to question whether it’s not just a hairy dude. It may be a mystery to the characters, but it’s far from a mystery for the audience who has to sit through said half hour. There’s no true payoff for time spent.
So, considering I basically just demolished the film in the first two paragraphs, was there anything at all done right in the film? Well, you might be surprised to know that I think a majority of the movie was handled decently. The script (as I said) was the critical bit that failed the foundation, but there were quite a few elements that gave the film some redeeming quality.
A for example, I thought the casting was handled fairly well. The two principle characters played by actors Erlend Nervold and Jon Sigve Skard do as good job as could be expected. Jon Skard plays Leo, the big brother of sorts to eternal screwup Elvis played by Nervold. Each of these men is struggling with their own life changing moments and all they have at this time is each other. The plot largely revolves around these two and they do their best to carry the narrative alongside the THALE. Then there’s the THALE herself, played by actress Silje Reinåmo. Silje’s character has been locked up in this woodland basement since she was a child so, her primary role is to play off of that fact. She does a great job of playing an emotionally stunted 30/40 something who’s existence has been forgotten after unfortunate events (yet to be revealed) leave her forgotten by the world.
The production design is very well handled. Most of the film takes place in the basement of a seemingly abandoned shack and it’s appropriately creepy and atmospheric. Very mad scientist meets hillbilly meth lab. Being a monster movie, the film involves a few creature effects. There are a couple versions of the THALE creature. The more human version played by Silje and the completely CG versions seen later in the film. Admittedly, the CG is unconvincing, but the former Silje version which is a combination of prothetic makeup and animatronics is quite well done.
Overall, the film fails to live up to its aspirations and I couldn’t really recommend you go out of your way to see it. That said, the really curious that run across it should feel free to watch it provided they set their expectations considerably low.
D grade for Plot and script
C grade for effects
B grade for actor performances
A grade for production design
Overall a C- grade for a film that has a great concept, but fails to execute on it.