Kuutamosonaatti (Olli Soinio, 1988)
[note: review originally published 24Apr2011]
Finland is not a country that comes to mind when one mulls over the world’s top horror-movie producers. In fact, in the ten minutes of websearching I’ve done since writing that sentence, I can’t find a single horror film from Finland that predates this one. (There seems to be a Finnish horror movement that’s sprung up in the past five years, though.) While I know that’s not nearly enough research to consider this the first Finnish horror film, I’m going to indulge in a bit of tunnel-vision; if it is the first Finnish horror film, then I can still find it as charmingly naïve as I did when I watched it.
Plot: bad-girl supermodel Anni Stark (Tiina Bjorkman, the beginning of her short film career; she appeared in just five films between 1988 and 1990, then disappeared), after a minor scandal in Paris, is whisked off to the countryside for a few days to let the furor die down. And when they say “countryside” in Finland, they mean it; blank, snowy landscape, ramshackle hut on the edge of a desolate little town where everyone’s related to everyone else. (Think the Finnish version of the deep Appalachias here in the States.) In this case the related-to-everyone-else family is the Kyyrolas, and the face we get for the Kyyrola family for most of the movie is Arvo (Monkey Business‘ Kari Sorvali, whose passing resemblance to Prophecy-era Viggo Mortensen makes the movie a touch creepier than it by rights should be), a big fan of Stark’s who is maybe just a tad obsessed. She’s not alone the entire time, however; on the final day of her stay, her brother Johannes (The White Dwarf‘s Kim Gunell) turns back up. This is the trigger for Arvo to go completely nuts, at which point Anni and Johannes start figuring out just how provincial the little town really is.
While the setup might have you believe this is a Hills Have Eyes/Texas Chainsaw Massacre knockoff (and to be sure there is a bit of that), the movie is billed as a horror comedy, and it’s obvious that neither Soinio nor the cast were taking things too seriously. This is what saves the movie from being a complete crapfest, that you’re laughing with it, not at it. Still, there are movies in that genre that still manage to be brilliant (Return of the Living Dead a classic example), and this one is…not. It’s just kind of silly, and Soinio has very little idea of how to build tension. The few scenes where it does happen it almost seems as if the script stumbles upon it by accident in between Soinio trying to get shots of Tiina Bjorkmann naked. Not that I’m complaining about those, mind you. I just wish there’d been more to it. ** ½
Film clip. The woods are CRAAAAAAAAAZY.