Directed by Aleksander Nordaas
Considering last year’s Norwegian mockumentary Troll Hunter proved to be a great hit on the festival circuit, it was only fair to assume that director Aleksander Nordaas would also deliver a fun and suspenseful film that would catapult a new wave of Norwegian horror. Sadly, that cannot be said for Thale as one of its few redeeming qualities is that its short run time makes viewers almost forget the blatant misogynist overtones seen throughout the film.
Thale opens with a promising premise as we are introduced to two forensic clean-up men named Elvis (Erlend Nervold) and Leo (Sigve Skard) while cleaning up a crime scene. Equipped with a sweet demeanor but weak stomach, novice Elvis struggles to remove the human blood and body parts without throwing up, whereas his oldest childhood friend Leo, who lives his life in a constant apathetic trance, has grown desensitized to the sight of gore and acts like his job is no different from a regular 9 to 5 office position.
When the bumbling duo are sent to find the second half of a body that was torn up by wolves in a desolate house in the middle of the forest, they unwittingly uncover a hidden laboratory where a feral, naked woman (Silje Reinamo) emerges from a bathtub of milky water and is hooked up to feeding tubes.
After the pair feed and clothe the mysterious and terrified woman named Thale, they soon discover that she is a Norwegian Huldra who has been kidnapped and held hostage for years in the lab, and although her sweet, ingénue looks make her look innocent, they only disguise her deadly mythological powers.
Those expecting Thale to be a frightening creature feature will be sorely disappointed as the title character is treated more like a mythical hermaphrodite than the lethal siren the trailer makes her out to be. Although there is no doubt that the director intended on making a weirdly touching and emotional film about the kindness of strangers in a callous world, it oddly comes off very contrived and substantially sexist at parts as the one thing that gives Thale power is her cow tail (which is undeniably phallic); and once it’s cut off, she is weak, frail and helpless until the two awkward male protagonists come to save her, conveying to (at least) female viewers everywhere that all a woman needs to build up the strength lying within is to have a man rescue her.
Although Nordaas does a competent job directing an ambitious low-budget indie creature feature with very little money, the laughable social commentary, failed boo scares and unbelievably cheesy ending make Thale a mediocre, yawn-worthy disappointment.
2 1/2 out of 5