×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Drowning Ghost

An old-fashioned slasher-film, sans irony or in-jokes, "Drowning Ghost" delivers what it promises as the body count mounts at an elite private school. The name of helmer Mikael Hafstrom, should help to draw more attention than usual to a non-Anglo genre movie. Fest platforming should help "Ghost's" progress in foreign markets.

With:
With: Rebecka Hemse, Jenny Ulving, Jesper Salen, Peter Eggers, Daniel Larsson, Rebecka Ferguson, Frans Wiklund, Kerstin Steinbach, Anders Ekborg, Kjell Bergqvist.

An old-fashioned slasher-film, sans irony or in-jokes, “Drowning Ghost” delivers what it promises as the body count mounts at an elite private school. The name of helmer Mikael Hafstrom, whose “Evil” got a best foreign film Academy Award nom, should help to draw more attention than usual to a non-Anglo genre movie. Fest platforming (“Evil” played Toronto) should help “Ghost’s” progress in foreign markets.

Hellestad is a private school for the well-heeled, somewhere in the Swedish countryside. While the headmistress (Kerstin Steinbach) makes a speech about the privileges of class, a girl jumps to her death from a roof. Strange things have been going on at the school for years, with murders, disappearances and mysterious deaths.

One year later, a student, Sara (Rebecka Hemse), is researching the truth about the myth of the Drowning Ghost. Per folklore, 100 years earlier, a local farmer murdered three students and then drowned himself. His body was never found, but his ghost is said to return to Hellestad each year, dragging his scythe behind him.

Sara discovers the farmer killed the three boys to avenge the rape and murder of his young daughter at their hands. The family of one of them, named Weine, has been attending the school for generations: Mans Weine (Daniel Larsson) is currently a student and his father, Peder (Kjell Bergqvist), is the school’s leading benefactor and the headmistress’ lover.

Sara’s discoveries cause considerable hoo-ha, with two new students, Felix (Jesper Salen) and Leo (Peter Eggers), also getting involved. Meanwhile, the jumper’s father, who’s been locked in a loony bin for murdering his wife 12 years ago, escapes. As the school’s autumn festival starts, the murders begin again.

Pic returns to the same school environment as Hafstrom’s previous film, and shows the same contempt for the bullying and class system that thrive at such establishments. The name of the school is borrowed from the 1956 Swedish film “Clouds Over Hellestad” (Moln over Hellestad), an Agatha Christie-like crowd-pleaser set in a country manse.

That’s the only knowing wink in the whole movie, which otherwise is simply devoted to scaring its audience. Graphic gore is kept to a minimum, with most of the slayings slightly off-screen. Sole departure from U.S.-style slasher films is that having an active sex life doesn’t necessarily mean one ends up dead.

Hemse makes Sara a much more developed character than usual for the genre, while character actor Bergqvist, a regular in Hafstrom’s films, has fun with the part of a wealthy man who’s afraid of Sara’s investigation. Lenser Peter Mokrosinski keeps his camera constantly moving through the corridors, creating a sense of unease, and Anders Ehlin’s music is mostly efficient.

Drowning Ghost

Sweden

Production: A Columbia TriStar Sweden release of a Greta Film production, in association with Nordisk Film Prod., TV4, Moviola, Europa Post Prod., Fagervik Intl. (International sales: Nordisk Film Intl. Sales, Copenhagen, Denmark.) Produced by Hans Lonnerheden. Executive producers, Kim Magnusson, Hans-Peter Lundh. Directed by Mikael Hafstrom. Screenplay, Hafstrom, Vasa.

Crew: Camera (color), Peter Mokrosinski; editor, Darek Hodor; music, Anders Ehlin; art director, Gert Wibe; costume designer, Cilla Rorby; sound (Dolby Digital), Patrik Stromdahl, Lars Jamesson. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 18, 2004. Running time: 103 MIN.

With: With: Rebecka Hemse, Jenny Ulving, Jesper Salen, Peter Eggers, Daniel Larsson, Rebecka Ferguson, Frans Wiklund, Kerstin Steinbach, Anders Ekborg, Kjell Bergqvist.

More Film

  • Bertrand Tavernier Hosts Night of Cinema

    Bertrand Tavernier Hosts Night of Cinema Inspired Orchestra in Paris

    Flanked by UniFrance president Serge Toubiana and the National Orchestra of France, filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier stood before a rapt crowd at Paris’ Maison de la Radio this past Saturday to introduce an evening dedicated to French film scores called “May the Music Begin!” That moniker – a reference to the original French title of his [...]

  • Orange Studio Sells Out 'Serial (Bad)

    Orange Studio Sells Out 'Serial (Bad) Weddings 2,' 'City Hunter' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Paris-based Orange Studio has nearly sold out its two French comedy highlights, Philippe de Chauveron’s “Serial (Bad) Weddings 2” and Philippe Lacheau’s “City Hunter.” “Serial (Bad) Weddings 2,” which opened the UniFrance Rendez-Vous in Paris last week, is the sequel of the smash hit film which grossed over $148 million worldwide. The movie has been [...]

  • Danmarks Sønner, en film af Ulaa

    Trailer for Rotterdam Competition Opener 'Sons of Denmark' Released (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the trailer for the opening film of Rotterdam Film Festival’s Tiger Competition, “Sons of Denmark.” The film is a political thriller set in Denmark in 2025, a year after a bomb attack in Copenhagen, when ethnic tensions are running high. An ultra-nationalist politician, Martin Nordahl, and his National [...]

  • Operation Red Sea review

    Chinese Entertainment Industry Braces for a 'Cold Winter' in 2019

    Winter is here for the Chinese entertainment industry, a half-dozen top-tier industry professionals concurred in Beijing at the launch last week of Tencent Entertainment’s annual data-filled white paper. China’s box office hit new heights in 2018, raking in about $9 billion, but it was also a year of drastic regulatory changes and a government tax [...]

  • Indie Sales Acquires Martin Lund's Nordic

    Indie Sales Acquires Nordic Coming-Of-Age 'Psychobitch' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Paris-based company Indie Sales has acquired Martin Lund’s Norwegian coming-of-age drama “Psychobitch” which is headlined by Elli Rhiannon Müller Osbourne (“Utoya: July 22”). “Psychobitch” marks the first feature film of Martin Lund, who made his debut with “Twigson Ties the Knot,” a local box office hit, and followed up with “The Almost Man,” which won [...]

  • Studiocanal has sold Jean Paul Gaultier's

    Jean Paul Gaultier's 'Freak And Chic' Documentary Sells For Studiocanal (EXCLUSIVE)

    Underscoring the strength and scope of French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s legacy around the world, the documentary “Jean Paul Gaultier Freak And Chic,” which chronicles the making of Gaultier’s ongoing popular show in Paris, has been luring distributors in key markets. Sold by Studiocanal and produced by Capa, the documentary has already been picked [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content