Review: ‘Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre’

An Icelandic knockoff of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" set aboard a whaling vessel.

Whales aren’t the only mammals up for slaughter in “Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre,” an Icelandic knockoff of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” set aboard a whaling vessel. Helmer Julius Kemp never makes the pic’s choice moments of gore and dark humor part of a coherent narrative, and lack of a central protag sets the story further adrift. Biggest marketing hook, apart from the title, is the extended cameo of Iceland-born thesp Gunnar “Leatherface” Hansen, which should help the pic find its sea legs at fantasy fests and in ancillary.

Screenplay, by lyricist-turned-screenwriter Sjon Sigurdsson (“Dancer in the Dark”), credited as “Sjon,” piles on cliches as it introduces a group of tourists on a whale-watching trip led by Petur (Hansen, looking like Captain Birdseye). After a freak accident, they’re transferred to a ship where some bloodthirsty Icelanders want revenge for the fact the country’s formerly flourishing whaling industry is, well, dead. Creative new ways of dispatching dumb tourists follow, as do the plot holes. Dialogue, in English and Icelandic, is often risible and thesping wooden, but crepuscular lensing by Jean Noel Mustonen and grotty production design by Eggert Ketilsson keep things stylish.

Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre

Iceland-Finland-U.K.

Production

A Sam release (in Iceland) of a Kisi presentation of an Icelandic Filmcompany (Iceland)/Solar Films (Finland)/Film and Music Entertainment (U.K.) production. (International sales: Cinemavault, Toronto.) Produced by Gisli Gislason, Ingvar H. Thordarson, Sam Taylor, Mike Downey, Jukka Helle, Markus Selin. Directed by Julius Kemp. Screenplay, Sjon, based on an idea by Sjon, Torsten Metalstein Hvas.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jean Noel Mustonen; editor, Sigurbjorg Jonsdottir; music, Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson; production designer, Eggert Ketilsson; costume designer, Maria Valles. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 17, 2010. Icelandic, English dialogue. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Gunnar Hansen, Pihla Viitala, Nae, Terence Anderson, Miranda Hennessy, Aymen Hamdouchi, Carlos Takeshi, Miwa Yanagizawa, Halldora Geirhardsdottir, Snorri Engilbertsson.
With: Gunnar Hansen, Pihla Viitala, Nae, Terence Anderson, Miranda Hennessy, Aymen Hamdouchi, Carlos Takeshi, Miwa Yanagizawa, Halldora Geirhardsdottir, Snorri Engilbertsson.

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