Director Júliús Kemp and screenwriter Sjón Sigurdsson’s attempt to bring a breath of fresh air into the survival horror genre concerns a group of whale-watchers whose vessel breaks down after their captain dies during an unfortunate accident. They are picked up by a shady-looking man who promises to rescue them but instead takes them to his family of inbred whale-hunters who now spend their time tormenting a different kind of prey.
On a technical level the film looks promising: the dull, moody greys of the Icelandic sky are matched by the crumbling whaler, which makes a suitable equivalent to the house in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – the obvious point of reference here. The gore effects are reasonably well done, but there’s nothing here we haven’t seen a million times before – although, having said that, special mention must go to a unique rendition of a Bjí¶rk song.
Despite its technical qualities, most of the film is flat and boring, and the intended ironic humour never quite comes across. The lack of a central character tosses the plot hither and thither, causing the audience to quickly lose interest. The performances are mostly average, with only Nae standing out as Endo, a put-upon translator for a Japanese businessman and his wife. Trying for a broader comedy-horror feel seems to have encouraged most of the actors to ham it up like there’s no tomorrow.
Although the director and the screenwriter should be applauded for trying to imbue a classic plot with an Icelandic sensibility, they might have done much better if they had focused on a more original script. The film was billed as Iceland’s first horror film and it’s hard to shake off the feeling that the country deserved something a little more unique for that special occasion.