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Sunday, March 24, 2024

• Review

Eddie Gustafsson

'FROM DARKNESS' / 'UR MÖRKRET' | REVIEW

“The Swedish wilderness could not have been portrayed better, or in a more frightening way.”

That is an honest statement, for what this film is, and what it does for the ‘Swedish forest-horror sub-genre’, it is indeed a substantial achievement. ‘FROM DARKNESS’ or ‘UR MÖRKRET’ is the latest Swedish horror film to be welcomed onto the big screen. We have seen it, and you are about to read our reviewers honest thoughts on it.

Image courtesy of Cinecct Sweden AB.

Firstly, this film is not any ‘incredible sensation’ or ‘best horror-film of the year’ production. It is not that great; it can even be considered just ‘an okay film’. We do not want to give you false expectations, so that is just us being totally honest. But for what this film does, in terms of set design and tone/feel, that part is quite chilling.

‘FROM DARKNESS’ is the perfect presentation of Swedish nature. The story takes place in a Swedish nature reserve some days before Christmas. There is a substantial amount of snow on the ground and the sun sets at about 3 PM in the afternoon. Meaning this film takes place somewhere in the ‘middle regions’ of the country. The outdoor of Sweden during this time of year is shed in a perfect light. A Swedish forest can really be quite scary, and this film shows you why.

Image courtesy of Cinecct Sweden AB.

A mere part of the film is spent wandering around in the woods at this nature reserve, sounds quite boring, am I right? But no, ‘FROM DARKNESS’ is quite well paced and does never seem to bore you with a tree to many. The snow-covered nature reserve is constantly frightening you with its shadowy darkness and glimmering snow, or eyes is it eyes? The character driven choices sometimes make you wonder ‘how the characters can be so stupid’. However, the personal problems that each character faces and how they also affect each other in the forest, makes the time spent in between the trees quite interesting.

The film is cliché at times, and it is not too inventive of the genre itself. (except for when it comes to the sets/environments) The scares that we get are good, but not great. A lack of frightening visuals is mostly to blame for. The prosthetics on the other hand, is quite well-made for this film. A young ‘ghost-child’ with a scary looking face always gets the job done, at least to an acceptable extent. I wished we could have seen more of the ‘main ghost’ of this story. We got a glimpse here and there, but never this frightening, full body, reveal that I hoped for. Some might like that, but I always waited for that horrific CGI creature to appear on screen.

Image courtesy of Cinecct Sweden AB.

Moreover, the screen was casually filled with some okay-to-great performances. Oscar Skagerberg (starring as Viktor) gave probably the best performance of the project. He portrayed a retired ‘dog tracker/handler’, with a troubled past. Rakel Benér (starring as Angelica) gave an okay performance playing a park ranger, the same goes for Peter Mörlin (starring as Johan) who plaayed Angelica’s new boyfriend. That is about it for the main characters, and honestly the film does not need any more people to work with. “Three characters are participating in a search for a missing woman in this nature reserve. The sun sets at 3 PM, it gets dark quickly, what is going to happen in this dark, snowy forrest?” At least they have a dog with them at all times, oh wait, he is gone…

The reason for some of the casts performances receiving just an ‘okay’ badge, is the number of un-authentice line deliveres in the film. There were not to many, but there was some moments that felt a bit un-natural in terms of dialogue.

Image courtesy of Cinecct Sweden AB.

A reason for why the film is somewhat cliché at times, also has to do with the writing for the characters. Two ‘officer’s-isch’ that have past relationship drama, one of them is taking medication that affect the plot, they still like each other somewhat but there is a new person in the picture now. It feels like every ‘crime/thriller’ show that has been produced over the last years. The description above is not precisly accurate for ‘FROM DARKNESS’, they are for example not really ‘cops’, but I think I have gotten the point through. Some of the character writing feels overused and it would have been fantastic to see some nuanced character traits or relationships.

The film overall works, the story is interesting enough and the concept of it all, especially with ‘Swedish-folklore-inspired’ horror, I think has strong potential. However, in the end it feels like the concept of this film could have been executed in a better way. The story could have gotten more horror injected into it, and some story beats could have been re-arranged. Its not a quesiton of pacing, except for some rappid-editing a few times, the films is well paced. It is more a question of writing decisions, what in the end, would have made for a more powerful story?

Image courtesy of Cinecct Sweden AB.

Perhaps, more ‘inventive scares’, a more ‘tense sound mix’ and getting to see more of the ‘ghost’, would have made for a better picture overall. It’s hard to know what could have been made better or what should not be changed. It is hard creating a great film, and I am no filmmaker, so I can not possibly know all the hardships in producing a ‘better-than-average’ picture. The film works ‘all-right’ as for general assumption, and its even great at times when it comes to highlights such as the sets and the overall tone/ambience. Looking at how the film puts horror into the Swedish wilderness can even be considered a game changer. I am proud of our forrests, and how scary they can be at night. (If that is something to be proude of...) The snow covered forrest has full of room for monsters to hide, and the earie tone that this film creates surronding this nature-reserve is perfect.

The cinematography of ‘FROM DARKNESS’ was also solid. Some cool lenses were used to craeate a sense of ‘stress/urgency’, and the way the snowy forrest was shot in different ways establishing a tone un-macthed for in Swedish horror thus far, is as said, one of the highlights from the film. There was also some scary looking visuals in terms of drawings and ‘ghost design’. But getting to see even more of the ‘folklore inspired’ enemy at hand, would have been even more effective. 

Image courtesy of Cinecct Sweden AB.

Better, could the ending also have been sadly. It did not feel to conclusive in terms of the horror aspect, and a scarier finale with a few more minutes of play time could have benefitted this film. In terms of writing for the film, there is not to many errors. Some story decissions could have been changed if you were to consult me personally, and some dialogue could have been more authentic to the scenario which it was spoken. But overall the writing for this horror story is well made I need to give writer Jimmy Nivrén Olsson that. The story could perhaps have been better executed, but in terms of the final product, it is a solid ‘Swedish horror/thriller film’.

Director Philip W. da Silva (and his team) manages to create an ambience surronding the film that is quite chilling. The film is not over-the-top scary, but it has the right feel going for it and is absolutelly suspensfull. Sure, the film is covered in stupid ‘horror movie decission’, (like running away alone into a dark forrest.) But that is passable. The end product that we get to see is amusing, and creates an environment that I would like more films to explore. There is a feeling of isolation and darkness hiding in every corner in this nature-reserve. This is one of the better ‘Swedish horror films’ I have seen in the past years, and we will therfore give it a rating of:

RATING: 2.5 / 5

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The Movie Clubhouse is the best place to be if you love movies & TV!

©2024 The Movie Clubhouse™