Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.
Slightly disturbed and painfully shy Angela Baker is sent away to summer camp with her cousin. Not long after Angela's arrival, things start to go horribly wrong for anyone with sinister or less than honorable intentions.
A young woman develops a taste for human blood after undergoing experimental plastic surgery, and her victims turn into rabid, blood-thirsty zombies who proceed to infect others, which turns into a city-wide epidemic.
Frigga lives with her parents on their farm. Unable to speak after being horrifically raped by an elderly man when she was young, her parents spend the majority of their money on speech therapy classes for their daughter in the hope that one day, she will speak again. One day, Frigga misses the bus to get to her speech therapy class. She accepts a ride off a suave looking gentlemen named Tony who pulls up beside her. Once they are in town, he takes her for a meal. Afterwards, he takes Frigga back to what appears to be his bachelor pad. He gives her wine that has probably been drugged, as she passes out after drinking it. The man then takes no time in bringing a crooked doctor in to get her fixed on high class heroin. After announcing to Frigga that she is now dependent on heroin and cannot last more than 48 hours without it, she must work as a prostitute for him. Frigga, obviously not thrilled by this news, attempts escape twice, but to no avail. On getting her very first client, she ... Written by
Vengeance, or so the saying goes, is a dish best served cold. This film certainly exemplifies this maxim, and in the process comes across as if Bergman had done Deathwish. (Thriller's director had actually worked as on Persona as an assistant, and indeed some of the Nordic glumness here reminds one of the greater director) Its one of those titles which, long unavailable to the interested viewer, provokes a huge amount of curiosity and its arrival on DVD with some useful extras, is to be welcomed. It also has the cool cachet of a recommendation by Quentin Tarantino, who for purposes of reference duly inserted a one-eyed assassin of his own into Kill Bill.
Seen today Thriller remains a striking film, even much of the shock value has evaporated - apart from the hard core sequences as the heroine, by now a unwilling heroine addict, is abused and degraded. These moments were a principal reason for the film's truncation for the States and elsewhere, even though now they seem part and parcel of the message, reinforcing the intimate distress of what is being done. In fact apart from the opening and discreetly filmed child rape, as well as the assault on Madeline's eyeball about a third of the way in, there's hardly much action at all - and which when it does appear, given director Vibenius' infatuation with slow-mo violence (interesting at first, avant garde when continued, a tad tedious when it carries on) tends to slow matters down considerably. Much of the fighting is done in this same manner, and while the drawn out bullet ballets piercing shirts lead to certain fascination, the technique also shows up the cheap special effects on offer, or distractingly emphasises the illogicality of bodies recoiling *into* bullets and actors reacting too slowly to the impact. But whether deliberately or not such trick effects distance the viewer from the emotions of events; instead the mechanics of retaliation and murder are drawn out in almost fetishistic fashion, just as Madeline will savour coldly the extended demise of Tony in the closing scenes.
On the plus side the deliberate nature of it all, and the slow build up to Madeline's revenge, gives the audience ample time to side with the central character and contemplate the stages of her increasing torment. And during the wait, her enforced silence communicates far more than acres of embittered dialogue might have. The result is a degree of audience sympathy that's quite a way from the usual exploitation product, and by virtue of the fact that sometimes less means more, accumulates considerably more dignity for the victim along the way. There's still plenty of 70's cheesy decor on show (Madeline's principal abuser and abductor, Tony, in particular recalls a sleazy Jason King) but the film is distinguished by its refusal to hurry and draws out the angst suffered by the main character with quiet understatement, an effective process which gets under the skin.
Its a film worth seeing for this rather unique flavour; whether or not it will repay repeated viewings is less certain as, apart from Christine Lindberg's stoic performance, non of the other actors make much of an impression. Director Vibernius, who apparently took on this production to pay for the flop of his last, only made one more film after this, the even more exploitative Breaking Point. In Thriller, where perhaps he succeeded for the only time in creating a near art house style for grind house subject matter, he also appears as a hot dog salesman.
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