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2012 | 78 min | Not rated | 1.85:1



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Theatrical release date

 05 April, 2012

Country of origin

 United States



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Screenshots from Thale Blu-ray

Thale Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, April 4, 2013

Those who prefer their horror cinema to resemble a demolition derby would be wise to steer clear of “Thale,” a Norwegian effort that takes its time to arrive nowhere in particular, showing remarkable restraint with common displays of violence and gore. Electing a more reserved direction of tension, the feature plays with stillness and the unknown, doing an effective job building mystery despite a no-budget production scope that keeps the action confined to a single dingy basement. Intriguing without ever making the jump to riveting, “Thale” is solid work from writer/director Aleksander Nordaas, who shapes a beguiling monster movie without ever truly indulging the tropes that often accompany the chaos.

A pair of crime scene cleanup workers sent to a rural cabin to take care of a particularly macabre mess, Leo (Jon Sigve Skard) and Elvis (Erlend Nervold) are faced with more questions than answers as they conduct their work. Bonding over their secretive issues with family and illness, the men find their mission complicated when Elvis discovers a basement passageway, stumbling on a hideout filled with canned food and cassette tapes. Also present in the room is Thale (Silje Reinamo), a mysterious creature in human form who’s been kept in the cellar for an extended period of time, raised by an enigmatic doctor with hazy issues of guilt and protection. At first frightened by the discovery, Leo and Elvis choose to make contact with the feral being, soon discovering her special powers. Calling for backup to help sort the mess out, the cleaners quickly discover Thale’s value to government forces, caught up in a dangerous quest to recapture the woman.

“Thale” has the timing and carriage of an episode of a horror anthology television series, issuing a detached take on spooky occurrences involving the titular character. In fact, much of the movie is powered by small increments of information, beginning with Leo and Elvis, two pained men working a particularly nightmarish job that’s difficult to endure, requiring nerves of steel and a patient stomach. The screenwriting template pushes along a miniscule amount of backstory and misdirection to ease the audience into the picture, following these unnerved men turn their job of cleanup into an afternoon of investigation, working down to the innards of cabin to find Thale hiding in a bathtub of milky water. She doesn’t speak, isn’t dressed, and keeps her distance from the pair, with Elvis the more forthcoming of the two, trying to connect to the animalistic stranger with friendliness and offerings of food.

We don’t know what Thale exactly is at the opening of the picture. She has a human form, but her behavior carries a strong forest creature instinct, fearful of unfamiliar faces. Clues to her true identity are recorded on the cassettes, which Elvis plays to better understand the situation, piecing together Thale’s history in chunks. He’s also first to be on receiving end of her unusual telepathic powers, filling in the gaps of her story and how she came to live in the basement. “Thale” isn’t explosive with its exposition, sustaining its mystery in a protracted manner that keeps the titular character captivating without suggesting too much at once. The slow burn effect could be a major turn-off for some viewers, as much of the movie highlights prolonged staring contests and an unwillingness to explore the woman’s origin in vivid detail. Nordaas is patient but mindful of his limited budget, working to reveal Thale in meaningful ways, with the discovery of a severed tail in a nearby refrigerator evidence that something is amiss about the situation, leaving Leo and Elvis vulnerable to outside interests.

“Thale” is a well acted movie, with Reinamo’s performance a particular standout, keeping dutifully unraveled for the brief run time (75 minutes) while showing remarkable bravery with the role’s sustained nudity, allowing Thale to remain tempting and terrifying in the same instant. The cast is the lifeblood of the production, creating intimacy and curiosity before Nordaas takes the finale into a nearby forest, exposing his true interest in the mysterious ways of mythical creatures. “Thale” won’t push viewers to the edge of their seat, but for those in a specialized mood of seduction, it’s a competently crafted chiller with just enough of the unknown to hold attention all the way to the end.

Starring: Morten Andresen, Erlend Nervold, Silje Reinåmo
Director: Aleksander Nordaas

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