32 user 60 critic

Sauna (2008)

Unrated | | Horror | 24 October 2008 (Finland)
As a 25-year war between Russia and Sweden concludes, two brothers who are part of an effort to outline new border accords become undone by their actions, and their mistreatment of a young woman during their journey.


(as AJ Annila)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rain Tolk ...
Kari Ketonen ...
Sonja Petäjäjärvi ...
Vilhelmiina Virkkunen ...
Taisto Reimaluoto ...
Ismo Kallio ...
Dick Idman ...
Ivo Kubecka ...
Elena Leeve ...
Isännän tyttären ääni (voice)
Elena Spirina ...
Rogosinin äidin tuutulaulu (voice)
Peter Holmlund ...
Ruotsalaisten tulkki


As a 25-year war between Russia and Sweden concludes, two brothers who are part of an effort to outline new border accords become undone by their actions, and their mistreatment of a young woman during their journey.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Wash your sins.




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

24 October 2008 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Evil Rising  »


Box Office


€930,679 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The word 'Poika' means 'Boy' in Finnish. However, the character 'Poika' is played by a girl 'Sonja Petäjäjärvi'. See more »


Modern day fillings are visible in the mouth of one character. See more »


[first lines]
Eerik: [Eerik just brutally killed a man with a knife] 73...
Knut: 73 what?
See more »

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User Reviews

"Epic masterpiece with auras of mysticism..."
15 December 2011 | by See all my reviews

Eerik Spore is a darkened war veteran with 73 lives on his consciousness, who has lost his empathetic abilities during the times of war. The only person he looks at with a certain form of consideration is his younger brother Knut, an academic and philanthropist who has ambitions about going to Stockholm to become a professor. The two brothers are posted at the cold border between Sweden, Finland and Russia in the years 1595. The war that started in 1570 between Russia and Sweden after Russia had made an attempt to conquer the swedes possessions in Estland, is over. Now the borders are to be set and a commission consisting of the brothers Spore and three Russian's sets the course north on a two day march through a widespread quagmire to meet another commission by the river Kiertämä. The tension between the men rises rapidly, and when Knut experiences clear visions of a woman he and his brother left behind in a locked cellar, his moral compass is awakened.

Finnish director Antti-Jussi Annila's second feature film, an ominous and atmospheric horror/thriller about two very different brothers' mystic experiences during the Nordic twenty-five-year-war, visualizes the fine line between reality and imagination through it's dominating use of visuals and sounds. Through passionless landscapes surrounded by mountains, trees and water, we follow five uncooperative men who are haunted by a horrible misdeed committed by the Swedish brothers. The men arrive at a nameless village that has a sauna which according to the folk myth can wash away people's sins. A sauna reminiscent of the one in Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker" (1979), where one's innermost wishes could come true.

"Sauna" has a masterful narrative that moves very quiet for a long time. The invincible boost of intensity has a striking effect and escalates with unpredictable pace towards the film's thrilling climax. The enigmatic screenplay is a substantial example of the art of storytelling within Scandinavian film and obtains a short though leading dialog that underpins the film's obscure atmosphere. With his perceptive filming Aj Annila follows the characters at all times with the exception of some distant photos of the grand landscape and the esoteric sauna. Characteristic for Annila's direction is frequent use of close ups and hand-held camera movements. A metaphysical study of character, a terrifying folklore or a historic drama, "Sauna" is no stereotypic horror film. Without exaggerating the use of splatter scenes Aj Annila manages to create a cryptic, poetic, illusory and continuant atmosphere which is a character in itself and almost solely representative of the film's horror aspects. From the mythical depictions of milieu and the detailed costumes, a realistic sense of time and place is contrived. The acting is excellent and seen as a whole "Sauna" is an audio-visual and epic masterpiece with auras of mysticism, that tinder's of artistic expressions.

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