When Animals Dream is an impressive, thoughtful horror movie that mixes themes and atmosphere from films such as Ginger Snaps and Let The Right One In. It’s all about a young woman named Marie (Sonia Suhl) who has her transition to adulthood complicated by the fact that she may end up suffering from a strange condition that has afflicted her mother (Sonja Richter). Her father (played by Lars Mikkelsen) wants to protect her from that potential fate, but Marie starts to rebel when she feels smothered by those around her.
Slow burn can often be misinterpreted by people to mean dull. And it must be admitted that many slow burn movies do have dull patches in them. That’s not the case here. Director Jonas Alexander Arnby takes his time to reveal small details, but he keeps a brooding atmosphere draped over scene and also encourages viewers to reach their own conclusions as the plot starts to develop.
It’s obvious that Arnby has taken his lead from the script, written by Rasmus Birch. Birch seems to fill every scene with nuance and colour (although I’m not talking literally here, considering the bleak, grey composition of some shots), and sketches out a cast of characters who never feel less than completely authentic.
Everyone onscreen seems to fit perfectly in their roles. Suhl is a sympathetic lead, trying initially to understand what she sees around her before then trying to figure out just what is going on with her own body. Mikkelsen and Richter are both very good, being allowed a certain amount of mystery in the first half of the movie, until things come to the surface. And then you have Jakob Oftebro, Stig Hoffmeyer, and Mads Riisom, portraying three very different men in Marie’s life. Every one of them, young or old, gives a great performance.
To top everything off, When Animals Dream goes on to provide a third act that rewards patient viewers with some more standard genre fare, without sacrificing everything that has come beforehand. It mixes in some more emotion, some solid practical effects and some bloodshed and death. When I started writing this review I was initially going to praise the film as a solid piece of work and recommend it to those patient enough to sit through it. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that I couldn’t find too many faults with the thing.
Imperfect, and perhaps a bit too sullen for many, I consider this a little gem. I hope more and more people discover it in the near future.
DIRECTOR: JONAS ALEXANDER ARNBY
WRITER: RASMUS BIRCH
STARS: SONIA SUHL, LARS MIKKELSEN, SONJA RICHTER, JAKOB OFTEBRO, STIG HOFFMEYER, MADS RIISOM
RUNTIME: 84 MINS APPROX