In folklore a ‘Huldra’ is a stunningly beautiful woman with long hair and an animal’s tail that lives in the forest, away from the wicked ways of humanity.
Found in Scandinavian, Norwegian and Swedish stories where the accounts of the Huldra differ slightly, she is a creature of the trees, a shape shifter, a seducer of men and often times a killer of them too.
Thale is a Norwegian supernatural horror that tells the tale of the Huldra but with a very modern twist. The story revolves around Elvis (Erlend Nervold) who works alongside his best friend Leo (Jon Sigve Skard) in the extremely unglamorous world of crime scene cleaning.
Whilst at work on one gruesome job involving the death of an old man, Elvis discovers a hidden cellar full of canned food, odd photos, rambling tape recordings and anatomy drawings and a bath which contains a naked young woman.
Unable to speak, the girl – who they discover is named Thale – seems scared and disorientated and the pair soon realise there is something very strange about her. As they go about trying to find out more about her and her past outside the safety of the cellar, evil forces are massing to take Thale back to where they believe she belongs and they’ll not let anything get in their way.
Made on a low budget with small cast and with director Aleksander Nordaas serving as the movie’s writer, producer, cinematographer, editor and camera operator (as well as shooting the film in his father’s basement) Thale is a massive achievement and more importantly, an excellent film.
With a solid story, Nordaas weaves a fairy tale idea seamlessly into the modern world, ultilising special effects brilliantly and sparsely to maximize their impact, much like Troll Hunter did.
Taking in themes of parenthood and fatherly responsibility as well as mankind’s enslavement of nature and attempts to civilize it and its creatures, Thale works on many levels while always remaining entertaining. The script is also excellently balanced between comedy, horror, thriller, fantasy and drama, with the double act of Elvis and Leo very well realised and acted.
Although renminscent of Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps and in some ways the sci-horror Splice, Thale is better than both and as rumors abound that an American remake is in the pipeline, horror fans should make sure they hurry and see this film before its is spoilt by Hollywood.
Most impressive of all is Silje Reinåmo as Thale, who gives a massively emotionally engaging physical performance evoking both the animalist creature she was and the human being she has become brilliantly.
Steeped in folklore and injected with a thoroughly modern horror edge, Thale is a wonderfully made and well acted movie. It will take you by surprise with its originality and captivate you with its story; the only pity is at just over 70 minutes, it ends too soon!