Disquieting Scandi horror Dir: Joachim Trier 1hr 56mins (15)
Scandi-noir meets horror in this “creepy erotic thriller”, said Ed Potton in The Times. Newcomer Eili Harboe plays Thelma, a young Norwegian woman from a strict religious background, who arrives at university in Oslo to find herself subject to the usual torments. She is lonely. She is teased by her contemporaries for her innocence. She finds herself attracted to an exotic-looking classmate (Kaya Wilkins). Then she suffers a series of epileptic fits, which unleash hitherto unsuspected supernatural powers.
One minute, director Joachim Trier deploys a low-key naturalistic style, the next, we start to share the heroine’s hallucinatory visions and the film becomes far more expressionistic, said Geoffrey Macnab in The Independent. At first intriguing, these shifts become wearisome. And there are too many thematic components, said Nigel Andrews in the FT. In seeking to explore school life, love, religious oppression and sibling jealousy, Trier gives each short shrift. Thelma doesn’t, in the end, “go for the jugular in the way a more obviously generic horror might”, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. Yet it is “tremendously acted”, particularly by Harboe. And Trier certainly does succeed in creating an “ecstasy of disquiet”.