Norway (dir. Pål Øie)
Cast: Kristoffer Jone, Anders Danielsen Lie, Karin Park
Synopsis: Painful memories arise when Kai Koss goes back to his childhood home after 19 years and inherits his dead mother’s house.
Review: “Skjult (Hidden)” is another surprisingly great movie out of Norway. Norway now has +2 points when you consider both “Død Snø (Dead Snow)” and now this fabulously surrealistic, and mildly terrifying entry, into the After Dark Horrorfest 4 lineup.
With his super sleek BMW and the classical music pumping out of its sound-system, you’d think Kai Koss (love the alliteration of his name), our main character, was a cool German dude on his way to the supposedly haunted house he just inherited. In fact, he’s a Norwegian guy with a troubled past who wants nothing more to put that past to rest (permanently) now that he’s inherited his (severely) abusive mother’s crumbling old haunted house on the outskirts of town in the midst of a serious forest. As far as haunted houses go, this one pretty much takes the prize. It’s literally crumbling all over, has creepy dolls everywhere, severe plumbing issues, and oh yeah, the basement may be haunted by some dead kid.
In fact, this may be one of the only haunted house movies I’ve seen where the main character is so freaked out by the house, he/she doesn’t even actually stay within the house for the duration of the movie or for any long stretch of time either. Kai instead shacks up at the local hotel that is reminiscent of the Great Northern hotel from “Twin Peaks”, right down to the decorations in each suite and hell, even the mysterious hotel manager who drops cryptic tidbits of (possible?) information about Kai’s past and the disappearance of a young boy on the same night Kai escaped from his mother’s house.
The hotel is even a bit reminiscent of “The Shining”, particularly one scene involving Kai and the hotel manager at the bar. If I’ve learned anything from watching horror movies, it’s that one should almost always pay for their own drinks or become gravely alarmed when drinks are free.
Of course, the house (or whoever or whatever is haunting it) doesn’t really take too well to Kai not being there, so he ends up getting some pretty disturbing calls (from the house!) that eventually draws him back to it. Whatever is haunting the house seems to not enjoy the company of outsiders either, so a local couple on a camping trip who make the mistake of venturing into the house ends up dead. See this is what I love about “Skjult (Hidden)”, it transitions from haunted house movie to surrealistic film to random killer mode so easily thus giving you the best of all three worlds. However, these genres may not even be valid categories for this film at all when you consider the possibility that Kai is functioning as both himself and the killer (in sort of a “Fight Club” Tyler Durden type of way).
Enough evidence is given that could prove or disprove the whole Kai Koss is two people theory, but during a first look at this film, you’ll probably be more inclined to conclude that there are, in fact, two people, Kai and the missing boy Peter (now a grown up, red hoodie wearing, killer) – Kai being there to put his past to rest and make up for the fact that he was responsible for Peter’s abduction and subsequent torture at the hands of his deranged mother and Peter functioning as the mysterious killer. Taking a second look at this movie may leave you with some overlooked pieces of evidence proving the Kai Koss is two people theory. There’s way too much evidence for that theory to discuss here, but – I know this is a far stretch – his name alone (two Ks) is sort of a hint for the two people theory, no?
This is a great little entry into the After Dark Horrorfest for 2010, but at some points you just feel like a lot is left unsaid, unexplained, or unresolved. Even some of the characters (townspeople, the sheriff, the hotel manager) are just sort of, there. They don’t really have much of a function besides offering minor setbacks, cryptic information, or emotional support. They aren’t really developed as individual characters the way Kai Koss is, but that’s really only a minor issue. Everything else about the movie itself is superb, from the script to the production value. Definitely worth a re-watch too.