Isle of Darkness

This tense little woman-in-jeopardy suspenser from Norway is a tad predictable but constitutes useful Euro video and tube fodder for audiences who like to view movies from the edge of their seats. The glorious island setting for a vaguely Stephen King--like yarn about a community of religious fanatics significantly enhances the mood of this crafty thriller.

With:
Julie Stockman ..... Sofie Grabol Roald Hansoy ..... Paul-Ottar Haga Solveig ..... Sina Langfeldt Lars ..... Martin Slaatto Arne Bakken ..... John Sigurd Kristensen Amanda Bakken ..... Trini Lund Wenche Oymoen ..... Juni Dohr Oymoen ..... Hakan Rosseland Dr. Svendsen ..... Terje Stramdahl Inspector Quist ..... Erik Hinju

This tense little woman-in-jeopardy suspenser from Norway is a tad predictable but constitutes useful Euro video and tube fodder for audiences who like to view movies from the edge of their seats. The glorious island setting for a vaguely Stephen King–like yarn about a community of religious fanatics significantly enhances the mood of this crafty thriller.

Danish actress Sofie Grabol plays Julie, a Copenhagen schoolteacher fired from her post when she slaps a nasty sprog who spews obscenities at her. To add to her woes, she comes across her boyfriend making out in the shower with her best friend. Not a good day.

She decides to makea new start and successfully applies for a teaching post on a small island off the southern coast of Norway. It might seem odd that a Danish-speaking educator would be selected to teach in a Norwegian school, but while some words and the accents are entirely different, citizens of the three major Scandi countries can understand one another pretty well. Still, pic plays amusingly with the communication difficulties Julie does face.

Given assistance by Roald (Paul-Ottar Haga), the island’s vicar and chairman of the school board, Julie settles in but finds herself very much an outsider. She’s also alarmed to discover that her predecessor hanged himself and that two schoolchildren, teen girls, recently suicided by drowning. She befriends the orphaned Solveig (Sina Langfeldt), a troubled teenage girl, and when Solveig is nearly drowned in a sexy red dress loaned to her by Julie, the teacher begins to suspect there’s a killer on the island.

Though it’s not hard to spot the identity of the bad guy, the film does have a few surprises in store, as Julie discovers that these seemingly placid, church-going islanders take their religion to extremes. Pic builds to quite a gripping climax, involving rape, near murder and a narrow escape.

Item is a proficient piece of entertainment, expertly made, quite atmospheric and reasonably suspenseful. Grabol is effective as the fish-out-of-water heroine who finds herself in real danger.

Harald Gunnar Paalgard’s camera lovingly explores the seascapes, cliffs and old houses of the stunningly beautiful backwater where the film unfolds, and other tech credits, including a soundtrack featuring English-lingo songs, are highly professional.

Isle of Darkness

(SUSPENSE THRILLER -- NORWEGIAN)

Production: A Norsk Film (Norway) release of a Northern Lights production, in cooperation with Balboa Enterprise, with support from the Norwegian Film Institute, Danish Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fund, TV2, Canal Plus, Warner Home Video. (International sales: Nordisk Film, Copenhagen.) Produced by Axel Helgeland. Co-producer, Henrik Danstrup. Directed, written by Trygve Allister Diesen. Camera (color), Harald Gunnar Paalgard; editor, Pal Gengenbach; music, Soren Hyldgaard; production designer, Carl Lange; costume designer, Karen Fabritius Gram; sound (Dolby Digital), Tom Matsen, Svenn Jakobsen; casting, Eva Isaksen. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 19, 1998. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: Julie Stockman ..... Sofie Grabol Roald Hansoy ..... Paul-Ottar Haga Solveig ..... Sina Langfeldt Lars ..... Martin Slaatto Arne Bakken ..... John Sigurd Kristensen Amanda Bakken ..... Trini Lund Wenche Oymoen ..... Juni Dohr Oymoen ..... Hakan Rosseland Dr. Svendsen ..... Terje Stramdahl Inspector Quist ..... Erik Hinju

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