#26. Thale (2012)
Steeped in a rich folklore, Norway has an abundance of mythological beasties at its disposal to unleash upon the modern world. Thale’s mythology surrounds tree nymphs known as Huldra and posits a scenario where two bumbling, yet sincere, friends who work as a disposal crew of the recent and not so recently deceased. Upon being called to clean a house deep in the woods, they discover the dead man has caught, raised to adulthood and held captive, a living Huldra. She’s domesticated enough until she is brought up from her cell and reintroduced back into the wild, where two opposing forces have been waiting for her to reemerge. The two men soon get caught in a battle between tradition and encroaching modernity. It turns out you don’t want to mess with tradition in Norway.
There’s a romantic sensitivity to Thale and Scandinavian horror that is charming in its naïve simplicity. They are simple but fresh and inventive, cool and clever – beautiful and so far removed from the ‘bash ‘em on the head’ approach constantly made in Hollywood. The eponymous Thale is such a delightful curiosity as she interacts with the two cleaners who recognize her innocence and relate through a shared understanding of captivity (each is secretly dealing with their own unexpected and life-altering prisons). But the film never broaches a saccharine silliness, and we, like the two cleaners, remain wary of her power, especially since finding her severed tale in the freezer.
Thale is a patient and a delicate weave of nostalgic innocence and naiveté woven into an ethical code: do not mess with nature. There’s a bedtime story charm about Thale and many other Scandinavian horror films that lull you into warmly accepting caution when exploring the unseen world. There’s a lot to be scared of out there. Thale is one of them.
Check out the trailer below and be sure to tune in tomorrow for #25.