When Animals Dream is the debut film of director Jonas Alexander Arnby. This is one of the best additions to the werewolf subgenre that I have seen and I was completely blown away by the its genius.
The movie stars Sonia Suhl as Marie, a young woman living in small town on an island who takes care of her ill mother Mor (Sonja Richter) alongside her doting father Thor (Lars Mikkelson). (If you are a fan of the BBC series Sherlock you will instantly recognize Mikkelson). But then, Marie finds herself in a mystery of sorts that involves the true cause of her mother’s illness, previous murders, and strange occurrences that are plaguing Marie’s body.
What makes this movie so brilliant is that the viewer isn’t insulted by cheesy one liners and pointless, fluffy dialogue that we associate with a lot of horror movies. When I sit down to watch a horror film, I fully expect the first thirty to forty-five minutes to be wracked with laughable dialogue that I won’t remember and won’t care about. However, When Animals Dream capitalizes on the attentiveness of the viewer and provides a plethora of scenes that have little to no dialogue. The acting is completely up to facial expressions and natural movements that not only make these scenes realistic, but also extremely believable. For example, when Marie begins to uncover what is truly wrong with her mother, she steals a folder from the doctor and while she is looking at it, you can clearly see her concern. Her facial expressions are far more meaningful than any dialogue would have been.
Let me address Marie’s actual transformation from woman to werewolf..? Werewoman? Womanwolf? Her slow progression before full metamorphosis is extremely elegant, and again, naturalistic looking. The film takes its time before you see Marie as a full lycanthrope and truthfully, this is the best way to show an animalistic conversion such as this. If someone were to be diagnosed with schizophrenia or dementia, the disease wouldn’t truly take a hold the next day, it would instead slowly work its way through the body until its grasp was complete and final. So, Marie’s changes in small doses before the climax of the film actually make more sense for an authentic and organic monster. But, her scenes as a full werewolf, taking revenge and partaking in typical werewolf action are terrific.
This movie will not wholly scare your pants off or force you to sleep with all your lights on clutching your teddy bear, but it will move you. There are extreme scenes that will surprise you and make you cringe, but nothing that will put you off. The intent for this movie was to make a coming of age film about a woman whose transformation into a werewolf parallels that of the journey that young people endure to become adults. Starting out as innocent naïve teenagers and then realizing not only the realities of adulthood, but discovering darker aspect of the human psyche are common themes that all people can relate to.
My chief complaint is that we don’t learn more about Marie’s parents and their previous struggles before we get to the point where the film begins. I would have also liked more background on the mysterious murders and maybe a small bit on the townspeople, but if I were a person within the confines of this film, would I really know that anyway?
I can’t wait for more from Mr. Arnby and I was not only satisfied from this film, but excited that I was able to screen a fantastic piece of cinema. It is available via VOD an in select theaters now!
WICKED RATING [usr 8]
Director(s) Jonas Alexander Arnby
Writer(s) Jonas Alexander Arnby, Christoffer Boe, and Rasmus Birch
Stars: Sonia Suhl, Lars Mikkelsen, Sonja Richter, and Jakob Oftebro
Release: August 28, 2015
Studio/Production Co: AlphaVille Pictures Copenhagen and Radius
Language: Danish with English Subtitles
Length: 84 Minutes