Tag Archives: Iben Akerlie

Norwegian Would


by Hope Madden

André Øvredal is a hard filmmaker to pin down. After his 2010 breakout Trollhunter, a giddy found footage flick concerning the impact giant trolls have on his native Norway, the writer/director got far more serious with his 2016 sophomore effort, the excellent horror show The Autopsy of Jane Doe.

Then it was all visuals and atmosphere in the more family friendly genre fare Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. And now he abandons any hint of horror, returning to the mythology of his homeland for a superhero tale of sorts, Mortal.

Nat Wolff is Eric, a disheveled American in Norway. He keeps to the forests, isolates, but eventually runs afoul of a car full of teenage d-bags—much to the dismay of the marauding teens.

Under arrest and awaiting an American convoy, he’s befriended by Christine (Iben Akerlie) the Norwegian therapist asked to speak with him. She’s the first to recognize his burgeoning but uncontrolled powers, although the Americans who are coming for him seem to have some inkling.

What Øvredal has done here is to reimagine the superhero origin story. True to its title, Mortal examines a very human character, weighing the guilt, pressure, confusion and fear that come with this territory.

Some comic franchises—the X-Men, in particular—ask whether humankind is ready or even worthy of superior beings. Mortal does the same. In fact, it does a lot of the same things you’ve seen in other origin stories and superhero franchises. Its uniqueness may be in the afterthought about how the world would construe the existence of a superhero in terms of religious implications.

This is one of the truly interesting thoughts the film injects into the overcrowded genre. It’s not well developed, unfortunately. But there is something akin to swagger in watching this mid-budget action thriller wrangle Norway’s own mythology away from a far showier, exponentially more famous universe.

The Water’s Not Fine

Lake of Death

by George Wolf

If your experience with Norwegian horror has you expecting Lake of Death to bring on the blondes and the folklore – you’re halfway there. The coifs check out, but writer/director Nini Bull Robsahm trades some homeland roots for flashes of decidedly American inspiration.

It’s a bit curious, since Robsahm (Amnesia) is updating the 1942 novel (and 1958 film) De dødes tjern– which is credited with kickstarting Norway’s interest in the horror genre. Clearly, a cabin in the woods can be creepy in any language.

A distracted Lillian (Iben Akerlie) brings a group of friends and one dog to a remote lakeside cabin for one more getaway before the place is sold. Her gang is ready for a good time, but Lillian is still haunted by the memory of her twin brother Bjorn, who disappeared one year earlier after taking a walk in these very same woods!

One of Lillian’s friends hosts a paranormal podcast, which is Robsahm’s device for filling everyone in on the local legend of the lake. You can get lost in its serene beauty, they say, lose touch with reality, and maybe even get the urge to kill.

Mysterious happenings, paranoia and suspicion ensue, but Robsahm sets the brew on a very slow boil, taking a full hour before we get one well developed visual fright. Lillian’s sleepwalking, hallucinations, and frequent nightmares lay down an overly familiar framework that’s peppered with music stabs and repeated name-dropping of horror classics from Evil Dead to Misery.

As an attempt to bridge generational horror, it’s all very commendable but little more than workmanlike. Robsahm has better success with her commitment to the lake’s spellbinding beauty, and with her repeated trust in cinematographer Axel Mustad.

Shooting in wonderfully earthy 35mm, Mustad creates a gorgeous tableau of woods and water, evoking the dreamy atmosphere required to cash the check written by the lake’s urban legend.

There may be little that surprises you in Lake of Death, but a sterling partnership between director and cameraman makes sure you have a fine souvenir from the visit.