How did I compile this list? There’s no real method to my special brand of madness. I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2017 and September 30, 2018 and worked and reworked the list until I had 31. This countdown is not for the elitists or festival goers, so if the film hasn’t been released to the masses, it won’t be on the list. Also anything released in October will most likely be on next year’s list—so sorry, no films like HALLOWEEN or SUSPIRIA just yet. I hope you’ll join me daily and don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion in a separate post that is worth noting this year or missed being on the list by a skosh for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Why is THELMA #22? Because this is a marvelous film that uses super hero tropes in a nightmarish manner. This film from Norway manages to keep you guessing all the way through. While it isn’t made clear until the end, this is one dark tale that pulls no punches. THELMA is relentless in the way the story unfolds. It’s slow in parts, but makes up for it with an ending that’ll hit you like a sledge hammer. You can find it here on iTunes and Amazon!
Directed by Joachim Trier
Written by Joachim Trier & Eskil Vogt
Starring Eili Harboe, Kaya Wilkins, Henrik Rafaelsen, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Grethe Eltervåg, Marte Magnusdotter Solem, Anders Mossling, Vanessa Borgli, Steinar Klouman Hallert, Ingrid Giæver, Oskar Pask, Gorm Alexander Foss Grømer, Camilla Belsvik, Martha Kjørven, Ingrid Jørgensen Dragland, Lars Berge, Vibeke Lundquist, Sigve Bøe, Isabel Christine Andreasen, Tom Louis Lindstrøm, Irina Eidsvold Tøien
Find out more about this film here, @ThelmaFilmUS, and on Facebook here
While there might be a case to call this film slowly paced, I was enrapt with this film from start to finish. Expanding on the “It’s a Wonderful Life” theme from the original TWILIGHT ZONE series, the Norwegian thriller THELMA explores the terrifying threat of a child born with the power of a god.<br.
Thelma (Eili Harboe) is a new student at school, shy and tentative for form relationships with her peers. With parents who are devout Christians, Thelma’s ways are scoffed at and ridiculed by her peers, save Anja (Kaya Wilkins) who is enamoured with the
innocent waif. As Anja and Thelma begin their relationship, Thelma begins experiencing seizures and other weird phenomenon (such as birds flying into windows around her). When a tragedy occurs in the school, Thelma returns home where her parents decide to tell her the truth about her power and the childhood she only barely remembers.
What is so compelling about THELMA is that it takes its time to reveal its hand that it is a film about the supernatural. While there are some odd instances (such as the birds killing themselves by flying into the windows around her and the siezures), you don’t know if there is some unseen force tormenting Thelma or if she is exuding this phenomenon herself. As the film proceeds, we see the full extent of Thelma’s devastating power, culminating in a second half that doesn’t make a lot of noise, but is explosive nonetheless. The subtle way Joachim Trier exemplifies Thelma’s power makes it all the more terrifying by the end.
Actress Eili Harboe is a true find as she encapsulates the frustrations of a child becoming an adult even before her powers are evident. She is a mild mannered and well intentioned young woman, celebrating her little victories with a closed-lipped smile and a brightness in her eyes that are often shielded or looking down. These little subtleties are what make this quiet little movie so powerful. This is a story of great power being possessed by a meek soul and because her power has been hampered by strict parents and rigid religious belief, that power is overflowing and manifests itself in an uncontrollable way. Harboe is able to exude that power without so much as a word.
THELMA is not an effects extravaganza like a CARRIE or X-MEN, though she could fit into those universes quite easily. It’s a resonant and often beautiful tale, focusing on the impact of smaller gestures or passing instinctual thoughts and how in the hands of the untrained, power can be devastating. There are a few scenes that are absolutely harrowing (there’s a scene later on involving someone catching on fire that is done with devastating beauty), but in the end, this is about a caged bird released for the first time. THELMA isn’t a film that breezes by and leaves you longing for the next film. It’s one that’ll stick with you if the pace doesn’t get in the way.
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
M. L. Miller is an original AICN @$$Hole formerly known as Ambush Bug/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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Don’t forget to share and like and finally, Happy Horror Holiday Month to Everyone!