Five young field-biologists are sent to northern Sweden to investigate effects of a large forest fire. However, what was thought to be some weeks of camping and easy work soon turns into a ...
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Five young field-biologists are sent to northern Sweden to investigate effects of a large forest fire. However, what was thought to be some weeks of camping and easy work soon turns into a nightmare as they find the remains of a mysterious creature and take it in for examination...Written by
When the group is looking for Ingar in the middle of the night, their faces are sometimes illuminated by flashlights other than their own, even when there is nobody else around. See more »
Unknown but not entirely Unloved
What's the worst thing that could happen to a director? I imagine it would be getting accused of shamelessly ripping off an original movie idea, even though it never was the intention and everything's just a matter of bad timing. When "The Unknown" came out, not too many people were interested in seeing it because most press reviews stated it wasn't much more than a lame imitation of "The Blair Witch Project". But in reality, this modest Swedish low-budget film was as good as finished when "BWP" played in the theaters and, even if it did influence Michael Hjorth in some way, it must have only been during the post-production phase. In all honesty, "The Unknown" is also a much better film than the annoying and way overrated "Blair Witch Project", which by the way is nothing more than a hypocrite imitation of "Cannibal Holocaust". That being said, the script for "The Unknown" obviously found most of its inspiration in the classic Sci-Fi concept of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". The use of hand-held cameras, with shaky movements and extreme close-ups of the inside of people's nostrils, might be reminiscent of "Blair Witch", but the premise of something unearthly and evil prowling a remote area and gradually taking humans is purely old-fashioned horror greatness. The plot centers on five friends and amateur environmentalists driving up north to research the effects on the fauna & flora after an immensely destructive forest fire. On the first day already, the quintet stumbles upon some type of unidentifiable and rotting carcass and decide to perform a pathological examination. Meanwhile, one of the girls falls ill and inexplicably runs into the woods at night. Ingar behaves increasingly freakish, as if she's no longer herself and taken over by someone or something different. Hjorth clearly couldn't rely on a large budget, so don't expect any gory Alien-esquire situations or even detailed glimpses at the "thing", for that matter. "The Unknown" purely thrives on an atmosphere that is constant and sheer ominous from start to finish. For some reason I cannot quite formulate, the Swedish woods appear to be far more menacing than the American ones and the characters are at least amiable and "normal". Sadly enough, the story and style characteristics are far from perfect. The unstable camera gives the impression there's a sixth group member tagging along and the sets are underexposed. But the giant holes and severe elements of indistinctness in the script are what truly bothered me. The actual link between the forest fire and the alien substance is never made clear. Did he cause the fire or did he specifically select the dead region because it's the best biotope? The finale is predictable and clichéd, but endings like this will always remain at least a bit unsettling nevertheless, so no harsh complaints there. Interesting and worthwhile film, as long as you're not too demanding and/or expecting something groundbreaking and new.
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