REVIEW: THE QUAKE aka SKJELVET (2018)

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THE QUAKE aka SKJELVET (2018)

Norwegian disaster flick is a sequel to Roar (Tomb Raider, Cold Prey) Uthaug’s The Wave and continues the story of Geologist Kristian Eikjord (Kristoffer Joner). It’s three years after the devastating wave in Geiranger and while Eikjord is seen by most as a hero, he himself is tormented with guilt that his warning could have been made sooner. He is separated from wife Idun (Ane Dahl Torp) and his children, son Sondre (Jonas Hoff Oftebro) and daughter Julia (Edith Haagenrud-Sande), who now live in Oslo. When a friend’s death in a tunnel signals Kristian that a massive earthquake could be imminent there, the nightmare begins all over again as he tries to warn authorities and get his family to safety.

John Andreas Andersen takes over directing reigns from Uthaug with a script from Wave writers John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg. He does a great job not only in creating some intense drama to get us emotionally invested in the returning characters, but some nail-biting suspense when the inevitable finally happens. Much like the last film, it’s a bit smaller scaled than the typical CGI filled mega-budget Hollywood disaster films and focuses on the human drama, though the devastation is quite impressive. There are some truly gripping scenes as Eikjord tries to rescue his wife and daughter from the top floor of a collapsing hotel, with the help of his dead friend’s daughter Marit (Kathrine Thorborg Johansen). It can be quite intense and nerve-wracking, especially in the last act and the human melodrama is kept at a realistic level and thus far more effective than if it was over-the-top like most films of this ilk. The FX are once again top notch, for a moderately budgeted film and the Norwegian locations are a refreshing relief from the usual world famous big city locales these movies usually choose. If the film has any flaws it’s that it’s over a bit suddenly, when one expected more and characters are suddenly safe when they were still in the danger zone when last seen. Some transitional shots would have helped. These are minor complaints when stacked up against what director Andersen does deliver.

The cast all return as the Eikjord family. Kristoffer Joner once again makes a solid everyman hero. This time Kristian is a man tearing himself apart by guilt that he couldn’t have saved more in the tsunami in Geiranger, but must do it all over again in Oslo. A good actor making the part very human. Ane Dahl Torp is again strong as Idun. She still loves her husband and is trying to be understanding and sympathetic, even though his new warnings appear as paranoia to her. Jonas Hoff Oftebro is good as the now college age Sondre, though he doesn’t have all that much screen time and Edith Haagenrud-Sande is very solid as young Julia, especially as she is involved with a lot of the action. Pretty Kathrine Thorborg Johansen is also a welcome edition as Marit, the strong-willed daughter of Kristian’s lost friend and quite the action heroine herself.

Overall, it’s a fun movie and every bit an equal to it’s predecessor. It’s human drama is done on a realistic level and thus emotionally invests the audience in the characters. It’s title event comes in the last act and delivers some really nail-biting suspense scenes as the characters we’ve come to like are thrust into highly dangerous situations. The FX are spectacular for a modestly budgeted film and director John Andreas Andersen fills Roar Uthaug’s shoes quite nicely. A really solid and very entertaining disaster sequel from Norway. Would love to see a threequel if they could find a way to get Eikjord back in action without seeming forced or redundant which The Quake avoids.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) little girls who should have stayed in the car like dad told her to.

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (2016)

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THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (2016)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

This is a really unnerving flick from writer/director Nicolas Pesce. It tells the story of young Francisca (Olivia Boand) who lives isolated on a farm with her father and mother (Paul Nazak and Diana Agostini), her mother being a former surgeon who shares her skills with her daughter, using the animals. When a man (Will Brill) enters their home under the pretense of using their bathroom, he murders her mother practically before Francisca’s eyes. Instead of calling the police, her father imprisons the man in the barn and Francisca uses her surgical knowledge on the demented individual. As Francisca grows to adulthood (Kika Magalhaes), she also grows lonely and seeks company, but the events of her childhood have given her methods of providing companionship for herself that are disturbing to say the least.

Filmed in sumptuous black and white this is an artsy, but atmospheric and really disturbing horror flick from Nicolas Pesce in his feature debut. He conjures some really unsettling imagery and sequences, as we watch the emotionally disturbed girl become a very unhinged and dangerous woman, who likes to keep ‘friends’ in the barn and hacks up anyone who doesn’t want to stay. The film isn’t overly gory and certainly is not torture porn, because it smartly lets us use our own imaginations to picture what the disturbed Francisca is doing. It’s a lot more disturbing when we conjure her actions in our heads. Pesce does still give us some very unsettling things to see, such as the now adult woman cradling her dead father’s body in the bathtub and her eerie behavior around a young woman (Clara Wong) she brings home from a bar. There are numerous cringe worthy scenes here and while we get some decent bloodshed, most of the violence is left up to us to imagine and Pesce gives us plenty of reasons to set our imaginations running. The black and white cinematography by Zach Kuperstein only makes the film even creepier and there is an atmosphere adding score by Ariel Loh.

As for his star, both young Olivia Boand and Kika Magalhaes both do great jobs in bringing the unhinged Francisca to life. Both actresses create a women who thinks what she is doing is right and natural and has no idea that she is actually a very emotionally disturbed person. Kidnapping, torment, murder is just part of her social interact with others. She just wants someone to care about and will go to any length to get it. Will Brill plays Charlie, the man who kills her mother and successfully does the job of being both serial killer and sympathetic victim. Good work. Paul Nazak and Diana Agostini are suitably odd as her parents and Clara Wong is very sympathetic as Kimiko, the ill-fated women Francisca brings home for ‘company’.

Nicolas Pesce’s debut is one of the best and most disturbing horrors of the year. It is loaded with creepy atmosphere and some very disturbing sequences and imagery. It presents a simple story of a young woman who grows up isolated on a farm with a very unsettling slant to social and emotional behavior. The actors all present their characters well and the director feeds us just enough to let our imaginations conjure the worst. A very effective and extremely unsettling film.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 eyes.

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