A group of young friends decide to go on a graduation trip for the weekend to a family owned cabin in the isolated mountains of Greenland. Once there, trouble manifests when they discover ...
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A group of young friends decide to go on a graduation trip for the weekend to a family owned cabin in the isolated mountains of Greenland. Once there, trouble manifests when they discover they aren't alone, and there could actually be some truth behind a local urban legend.
Six young people go to a cabin in the wilderness to celebrate their graduation(well, the four of them). The couple Ivalu(Johansen, loving) and Mika(Fleischer, a little bit of a practical joker), her little brother Piitaq(Høegh, shy, the youngest), Ulla(Kruse, sweet, the one who knows the most about the supernatural) who has a crush on him, Kiistat(Lennert, decisive), and Aqissiaq(Lennert-Sandgreen, obnoxious without losing our sympathy), who wants to get with her. This vacation soon loses its appeal when they see signs of the territorial, avenging spirit of a hermit who was rejected by society - what their ancestors call a qivitoq.
I should clarify from the onset that my deeper appreciation of this was on account of watching and, at the same time, discussing this with my father, who spent 6 years studying Eskimology(Inuit language and culture). This is a healthy marriage between modern horror cinema(with isolation, desolation, even a little claustrophobia) and, the lesser known, history and mindset of Western Greenland. This is clear with its title, which translates to In the Shadows of the Mountain, and aforementioned local mythological killer, here depicted wearing the otherwise seldom, in the contemporary, seen(thus placing it distinctly in the past, as many other icons of terror) article of a seal-skin coat(and the first person who brings up PETA, Greenpeace is getting slapped sideways... it's one of a few, important exports, the meat is also eaten, and the respect of the animal is assured by a long background of a love of any of the food they hunt).
But I digress. This is drenched in aspects that are(granted, some are well-known outside of it, as well) of the area - all behavior and dialog, every song on the score, and those behind and in front of the camera. This works as both a treat to those who already know about that part of the world, and as an introduction for those who don't. Certainly, you won't appreciate everything if you go in blindly, however, with the recognizable elements right out of a Hollywood piece, you can follow it, and find it downright engaging. The production values are amazing. Cinematography, editing, sound, music, acting(one in particular is asked to do a lot, and is stunning), every step of the way. You can tell this had a budget, not to mention professionals crafting it. Granted, the use of CGI is a tad frequent - blood, flies... sometimes even snow! This doesn't detract from the countless beautiful shots of fields and sea, and the impeccable, silent atmosphere, giving us both the relaxing distance from the stress of the city... and of course, the deep dread of the middle of nowhere, with predators and the merciless void of threatening stone and ice that has led to one story after another reaffirming the bitter, destructive will of nature itself.
The genre has its share of common weaknesses and clichés, and sadly, some of them are present here. After a while of setup, the pace picks up about an hour in, only to then going back and forth between gaining and losing steam. With a running time of 2 hours and 1 minute, or 1 hour and 53 not counting the end credits, this could have been a good half hour shorter and only be tighter for it. The theme of revenge is gripping, and endemic to the monster chosen for this, and yet it's not explored too much. True, that does increase in the last third, though that does have problems of its own. Unsure of what to do with the creature, it goes for a couple of different ideas of it, and these are quickly dealt with in start-stop fashion. The ending and the conclusion to the mystery is commonly troubling for tales of this sort, and this is no exception. Had it gone further in the direction that otherwise defines this, of the indigenous and their ingrained fears, the climax could have been better. Ultimately, certain things just happen one time(at least) too many: Deciding to split up, some disappearing from the others(and thus us, the audience), following a plan that was inherently flawed, refusing to accept what the evil being has been shown to be able to do. And oddly, the items set up as useful(a radio, for example) pay off in distractingly unexpected ways, to the extent that they feel like hasty rewrites. Yes, the couple of takes on what to do are repeated. There is a lack of depth. However, these things aren't frustrating on initial your viewing, because the presentation is just so impressive, with an underlying current of tension. At no point do the personalities irritate, instead, the various dynamics of them keep our eyes intently on the screen, hoping for their survival. This employs effective use of perspective, with the early POV of the outsider(as long as he is not accepted, something that doesn't remain unaltered) and the continued focus on the group, and often locked by their living quarters("home is the safest place", and the very clear, and accurate, notion that being outside for long can mean death – by means not necessarily unexplainable). And this has one of the least contrived elimination of cell phones I've seen. Indeed, this delivers on the goods of the concept, in fact being a great deal more appealing than the average fare coming out of L.A.
There is a bit of violence and disturbing content and some sexual(a little of it graphic) references in this. The DVD comes with an 8 and a half minute making of and 7 and a half minutes of interviews with the cast - I can't comment on them, unfortunately, as unlike the film itself which has Danish and English subtitles, one has to understand their mother tongue to follow along. I recommend this to any fan of slashers, and/or those interested in what primitive(keeping in mind that words means "first", and any negative connotation is something we give it) peoples look like today. 8/10
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