Friday, February 4, 2011

Norwegian horror spotlight: Snarveien

It's time again, dear friends, to delve into the dark scary forests of Norwegian horror, this time with Snarveien (trans: Detour) Well, if horror movies have taught me one thing, it's that taking a shortcut is never a good idea, and a whole movie set in or around a shortcut is bound to be a bloody fun affair, right?

Well... not quite. This movie is fairly similar to The Strangers, in that it has a very limited cast of characters, admittedly not quite as limited as the above-mentioned movie, and a low bodycount. It does have a few kills, but mostly, it keeps working up the atmosphere. The plotline is fairly basic. Lina and Martin are on their way back from Sweden, where they have bought alcohol for a friend's wedding, shopping east of the Norway/Sweden border is a fairly popular activity in this country, probably on account of the price. However, our heroes take a side road to avoid customs, which most horror fans should tell you is a really shit idea. Just to make it worse, this side road is blocked on account of an accident, and they find themselves taking an inderect route, where they encounter some local color and a car breakdown. In their efforts to getting the car fixed, they manage to stumble over a snuff film streaming operation who, as covert operations is want to do, decide to capture the two Norwegians and torture 'n kill them.

So yes, the story isn't what you'd call amazing, but it's an ok setup. Of course, this basically is Texas Chainsaw Massacre copy number one-hundred and thirty five, with the Deep South is replaced with the westernmost parts of Sweden, and it doesn't really evolve past that, the big plot twist being fairly obvious from the get-go, but it's a slasher, I guess I can't really ask for more. What this movie has, though, is some pretty good scares, especially one point just before everything goes seriously south, where our hero is looking at several monitors, one of them showing a closeup of the back of his head, to turn around to see the one filming him. The fact that this man apparently had a nightvision camera built into his gimp mask does little to alleviate the sheer sinking "oh... shit" feeling, that is, if not entirely on par with Marble Hornets, then at least up there.
One of the many signs your day is going to get worse.

Although this film wasn't bad, I feel it illustrates a decent point when it comes to Norwegian horror. Sure, there's good horror coming out nowadays, and the business is finally going into a track which makes actually getting involved with it seems like an actual option, however, I do think Norwegian horror is taking after some... less charming traits from the big movie machine that is Hollywood. I mean, Fritt Vilt (Cold Prey) pretty much was a straight slasher ripoff, and its sequels more so, but I honestly hoped the Norwegian Slasher would either grow somewhat more unique, reflecting Norwegian tradition and quirks, or phase out when people realized there's made hundreds, probably thousands of those things already, and the minor variations it usually plays around have been tried before. I'm not saying slashers can't do anything new, it's just that minor variations in setting really doesn't make it new and exciting, and neither does stupid twist endings, although those can work too, but I'm getting into a digression in a digression, some real Inception shit.

So, as you might be able to discern, Snarveien wasn't bad, you certainly could do worse than it, since it's clearly made with vigor and a little more inventiveness than what's usual in the genre. It's not going to rock your world, but for a quick, easy popcorn movie, it can do quite well.

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