An artist in crisis is haunted by nightmares from the past in Ingmar Bergman’s only horror film, which takes place on a windy island. During “the hour of the wolf” – between midnight and dawn – he tells his wife about his most painful memories.
To be honest, this movie served as my first ever Ingmar Bergman experience. And what an experience it was!! I was told by several people this movie is close to The Shining in essence, and I was worried I wouldn’t like it cause I didn’t find The Shining to be scary for even one second and Shelley Duvall gave what definitely is the worst acting performance I’ve ever witnessed in big budget horror and without a doubt, the worst performance ever put in any Stanley Kubrick movie (yes, that was actually possible). But boy, I’m glad my worry didn’t come true.
Max Von Sydow gave a great performance as an artist on the verge of insanity (better than Jack, IMO) but the show stealer was definitely Liv Ullman. While Von Sydow was the main reason the story happened in the first place, Ullman was more than hold her own in this movie. Every time Von Sydow’s character told a haunting story to Ullman’s character, I doubt I would have been half as absorbed to the stories if it weren’t for Ullman’s subtle yet deep reaction. Hell, I doubt the movie would have left a great impression on me if it weren’t for Liv Ullman’s mafioso performance, period!
Why Gwyneth Paltrow got an Oscar whereas Liv Ullman never won one, I will never know.
Another thing needs to be underlined in this dream-like, almost surreal, psychological horror is of course Ingmar Bergman’s aerial directing. It reminds me a lot of Kaneto Shindo’s masterful direction in Onibaba. Bergman captured every facial feature, every reaction, and every line delivered perfectly. It is easy to see this movie is driven a lot by its puissant characters & powerful dialogues which brought the best out of every aspect in it, and needless to say since a character & dialogue driven horror movie is flat out rare, it speaks volume of Ingmar Bergman’s near unparalleled directing ability I’ve heard so many times over the year but just witnessed for the first time ever. Aside from that, the location was spot on for this movie. A windy island near the sea is beautiful, but the angelic cinematography shot in B&W really makes it look haunting.
And of course, being a horror movie this is, you will not find shortage of scary scenes. Check out: The dinner scene, the doll opera scene, the boy on the rocks scene, the climax in the woods, and of course the ending, which may very well be the scariest close-up ending I’ve ever laid my eyes upon in any horror movie!!
All in all, for anyone who likes psychological horror, this is heavily recommended. While this may sound boastful, I came to the conclusion (after watching this movie) that Hour of The Wolf can put any 2000′s European horror to shame. Yes, I really mean it. It IS scary to me. And the scariest thing about it was, I didn’t even realize I just watched something frightening until after the movie ended.
10/10 from me!!
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