Fantastic Fest 2018: THE UNTHINKABLE Review – War is Hell But There Are Things Far Worse

Starring Christoffer Nordenrot, Lisa Henni, Jesper Barkselius

Written by Crazy Pictures, Christoffer Nordenrot

Directed by Crazy Pictures

The joy of seeing movies at a film festival is that you often can’t anticipate or properly research something before getting your butt in the seat. And while there’s a certain amount of comfort in seeing a movie after having watched a trailer or two and reading a few articles, there’s a different kind of delightful experience in doing a “blind viewing”. Everything in the film is a surprise. Nothing has been spoiled. From the first frame to the last, it’s all fresh. Such is my encounter with the Swedish thriller The Unthinkable (aka Den Blomstertid nu Kommer).

The film follows Alex (Nordenrot), a musician estranged from his father, Bjorn, and clearly uneasy with the people around him. After his mother dies in a series of terrorist bombings, Alex travels back to his hometown and rekindles a relationship with his old crush, Anna (Henni). However, this is short-lived when Sweden comes under attack and is invaded by Russian forces who have used a chemical agent spread via rainfall that renders victims memory-less.

Nordenrot plays Alex very tightly, winding him up so that any emotion that can’t remain bottled explodes across the screen. His lack of a relationship with his parents becomes an integral part of who his character is and how he acts, that along with the regret he carries for not letting his childhood crush Anna know how he felt when he had the chance.

Pulling the old switcheroo, The Unthinkable‘s first act in no way prepares viewers for what is to come. While the terrorist bombings are mostly off-screen, one event is clearly shown and the gravity and enormity cannot be denied. Still, the visuals suggest that the film might veer into a heavy drama, one that focuses on how Alex, his father, and Anna might bridge their respective troubles. Instead, we go to a full-blown invasion film where every action sequence carries consequences and weight. Every bullet that flies across the screen feels dangerous and those who lose their lives aren’t just throwaways.

Helicopters fall out of the sky and cars slam into each other with a vicious intensity that will have many people making sure their airbags are in working order. While these segments make sense in the grand scheme of the story, one sequence involving Bjorn protecting the power plant he works in feels a bit too “B-action movie” when compared with the rest of the film. Also, narratively the film may falter here and there but it more than makes up for it when seen as a whole.

The music by Gustaf Spetz is delightfully minimalistic and pulsates with analog synth warmth, a delightful contrast to the cold, rainy visuals that permeate the latter two-thirds of the film.

The blend of action and melodrama is rather wonderfully balanced, although I can easily see some people preferring one over another. While I can understand those who want more of the intense action, I felt like the character development served to make the terrors these people experience all the more palpable.

  • The Unthinkable


Beautifully filmed and breath-stoppingly intense, The Unthinkable wonderfully blends human emotion with the horror of war in a grounded and captivating story.

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