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Carrie on screaming

02 November, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Eili Harboe in Thelma

Directed by Joachim Trier
Certificate 15

THE sign of a bold and confident film-maker is often what they leave the viewer to work out for themselves. Plots and scheming don’t always have to be writ large across the screen. It is not always what you can see that freaks you out – it is what is left to the imagination.

And in this classy Norwegian horror, the viewer is left to wonder about where the thin line between reality and imagination starts and stops, and draws on ideas of witchlore and the mind’s vast panoramas to create alternative realities.

Thelma (Eili Harboe) has left her isolated home in the wilds of Norway to start at university in Oslo. A shy woman who has been brought up in a suffocating and religious family, she is both scared and excited by her new environment.

She meets fellow student Anja (Kaya Wilkins) and the pair instantly develop a mutual attraction. But the feelings between them seem to spark some kind of unexplainable storm of bubbling emotion.

One day she suffers a kind of fit – and is sent for a barrage of tests to find out what exactly is wrong with her.

The answers are pretty terrifying.

This is a very modern supernatural tale, like a contemporary Carrie, and Trier cleverly does not try to over-explain things that are in the realm of the unexplainable.

Trier cites the brilliant Adrian Lyne film Jacob’s Ladder (which still upsets me, 25 years after I first saw it) as an inspiration and while Thelma lacks the same depth, it would belong on the same shelf.

It is a credible and ultimately unsettling film – which means it has achieved what it set out to do.


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