I’m a sucker for genre films not only soaked in a fairytale mythology, but one that promises to deliver some sort of fantastic creature before the end credits role. Thale, a Norwegian horror tale playing at the Toronto International Film Festival, delivers both a cool mythology and creature, but bloats the rest of the film with exposition.
Thale is about a cleaning crew who, while snooping through an old man’s house, come across a woman submerged in a bathtub. After releasing her, things become incredibly strange as it’s slowly revealed that she’s actually a “huldra” that’s been held captive for many years (and had her “cow tail” removed).
While strong performances and bleak cinematography keep the film afloat, ultimately the bulk of the second act is less than engaging. It takes too long to get to the obvious revelation, which at one point escalates the film into full on terror mode. The audience does get to see some elder creatures, which deliver some violent retribution, but the heavy CGI hinders its impact and full potential.
There’s nothing all that compelling or interesting about Thale (even the lead fails to enchant the viewer), but it still feels wrong to be overly harsh to what ultimately is still something worth seeing (Netflix?). If anything, Thale is a bland horror fairytale that could have learned a lot from works such as Pan’s Labyrinth.