Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Marianne – review

Director: Filip Tegstedt

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

This Swedish film features a creature called a Mare. Now the experts all have different variants of the Mare. Melton says “closely related to the incubus was the mare (Old Teutonic)”. Bunson added more detail and said, “The mar a (mare) generally represented the active terror of the night (the nightmare), an incubus or succubus, and an oppressive or crushing weight during the sleeping hours.” Under Mara he associates it with the alp and says it has a taste for blood. Bane suggests that “The alp, when it attacks a horse, is usually referred to as a mare” and suggests the mara “is created when a child dies before it could be baptized”.

Mare's teeth
All these different takes have a broad consensus that it is a creature that acts somewhat like a succubus/incubus – in that generally it is seen as an energy vampire that comes upon the victim at night; rather than a sexual assault, however, the mare causes terror and sleep paralysis. The terror that comes in the night is, of course, the nightmare.

This film begins with a picnic. We see Krister (Thomas Hedengran, Frostbite), Eva (Tintin Anderzon) and their 10 year old daughter Sandra (Saga Viljeståhl). Krister walks into the forest a little way and makes a call, we hear him say he is with his family and say to the caller that he loves them. Sandra comes up behind and asks who is talking to, Eva is not far behind. Cut forward 9 years later and Sandra (Sandra Larsson) is at Eva’s funeral. Krister holds a baby, Linnéa, who is crying – he passes her to Sandra and leaves the church.

at the funeral
We discover, as the film goes on, that Krister and Eva split up and, some years later, got back together – Krister leaving his lover. Linnéa was born after their reconciliation. They had left Sandra babysitting when they went out for a night away. Krister told the police that their car was hit by a car driving on the wrong side of a bridge’s carriageway. Eva was killed and the driver of the other car then threw themselves over the side of the bridge. This has left a very broken home. Sandra was already dressing in a Goth/metal fashion and is with an older bloke known as Stiff (Dylan M. Johansson), she has little time for her dad, doesn’t want to go back to school and is generally rebelling.

face above him
Early on in the film we start hearing, as Krister sleeps, a noise – it becomes apparent it is grinding teeth. As the film progresses the mare (for that is what is making the noise) becomes more and more apparent. Krister wakes unable to move, at first feeling the presence in the room, later being sat upon and suffocated. He is even wounded by the mare – though when he shows the marks to a doctor they are barely visible.

Mare's exorcism
He is encouraged in the belief that he is being visited by a supernatural creature by Stiff – who believes in the supernatural and claims to have seen an elf when he was a child. It is he who suggests the visitor is a mare and describes them as a woman, back from the dead, who feeds on life essence and normally has red hair. This fits for Krister as he has already described a pale woman with red hair in a green coat to his counsellor, Sven (Peter Stormare, the Batman Vs Dracula, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night & the Brothers Grimm). Stiff tells him that a line of linseed at the door should keep the mare at bay and the two concoct an (unsuccessful) exorcism including a “mare cross” (a pentagram) and a sheet soaked in sweat as mares don’t like human sweat – to me counter-intuitive as they cause sweat when producing the night terrors.

Peter Stormare as Sven
Sven doesn’t believe in the mare, of course, worrying that Krister is developing paranoid schizophrenia and wants to refer him to a psychiatrist. Sandra is also less than impressed with the idea and dismissive of the concept, even when their relationship is improving. She finds a notebook full of scribbled names including her, Linnéa, Eva and someone called Marianne (Viktoria Sätter), which looks like it supports Sven’s theory.

Sandra Larsson as Sandra
The film kind of split me. The revealing of what happened – on the bridge and in Krister’s relationships is non-linear and shown in dreams. But the on-running family drama was slow and Sandra was at the same time a story lynch pin and an annoying character who seemed to whine endlessly (well she is a teen, I suppose). Krister ends up coming across as sympathetic when facing his daughter’s barrage of angst – despite the fact that we know he is controlling of his daughter and has a dark past. This probably was helped as the film moved forward and Krister was victimised more and more by the mare (or became more and more mentally ill – depending on which you believe) as Thomas Hedengran absolutely sold this to us.

physically marked
The horror moments (and they are moments) were vastly superior to the family drama, Filip Tegstedt working around budget by showing glimpses and details only, using darkness to obscure his monster and an excellent use of sound. The sound of grinding teeth puts the viewer on edge, but in the right way to accentuate the scene. This less is more attitude continued into the film and I don’t know whether expanding those sections would have helped? Perhaps just a better pacing and perhaps a little less angst was the key. 5.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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