Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ryan Watches a Motion Picture #3: Sauna (2008)

I couldn't turn this one down: a ghost horror film set in the 1500s.

Looks like the Swedes and the Russians have ended a 25 year war and are now collaborating on the mapping of new borders. Things are tense between factions and its terribly important that nothing goes wrong. Naturally, something occulty goes down.

All in all, I'm fairly sold on the film for packing a cool dark age atmosphere of damp, mid-winter forestry and mud, great set design and costuming, and morally ambiguous war-weary characters. But sadly, about two thirds of the way through, Sauna starts to overdo it with the haunting stuff, and would have benefited by playing it much more low-key and infrequent. The creepiness it does well to evoke eventually loses much of its power, and it gets caught up in outdoing itself with its spookiness and minor plot twists to the point where some stuff happens that really doesn't make much sense, and you're left a bit lost as the stakes get higher.

So: A pretty unique European dark age spin on the kind of thing usually done on the Asian ghost horror scene.

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