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Review: False (2019)

Directed by: | 92 minutes | | Actors: , , , , , , ,

Mel Wallis de Vries is extremely popular among young people. The writer of children’s literature once admitted that she always bases the characters in her books on people from her own high school days, although of course she gives them a different name. Mel’s books are labeled as ‘youth thrillers’ and that makes them quite unique, because there are not that many other writers who focus specifically on this genre. The style is just as powerful, smooth and straightforward as the titles of the books suggest: ‘Fout’ (2008), ‘Madness; (2009), ‘Klem’ (2012), ‘Wreed’ (2013), ‘Shock’ (2014) and ‘Schuld’ (2015) are some examples. She has already been awarded the Young Jury Prize seven times. Her most famous work is ‘Vals’, a book she wrote in 2010 that six years later became the first of her thrillers to hit theaters in the form of a . And because the target group – teenagers from the age of fourteen – also likes to go to the cinema, a version of ‘Vals’ was released in January 2019. Directed by Dennis Bots, the man behind the series and films around ‘Het Huis Anubis’ and book adaptations such as ‘Eighth Groupers Don’t Cry’ (2012) and ‘Secrets of ’ (2014) and the screenplay was written by Alexandra Penrhyn Lowe , with whom Bots has previously collaborated on some of the ‘Anubis’ films.

Shortly before the final exams, four friends go to the Ardennes together for a weekend. Kim (Romy Gevers) and Abby (Abbey Hoes) have been best friends for years, although the friendship has become less intense now that Abby has met the cheeky Pippa (Olivia Lonsdale) and has also asked her for their trip to Belgium. Feline (Holly Mae Brood) is a bit further away from the trio and has her own troubles, as will appear later. The incalculable Pippa has been given her parents’ four-wheel drive for a weekend of boozing and partying in a remote mansion; she drives like a chicken without a head and near their final destination almost hits three boys (Thijs Boermans, Shahine El Hamus and Niek Roozen) who have settled in a nearby house. To make it up, she invites the boys to visit them that evening (without discussing this with the other girls, incidentally). Before long we discover that all the girls are walking around with a secret, and what should have been a night of partying turns out to be very annoying to say the least. Kim becomes trapped, Abby – who has a boyfriend (Gijs Blom) at home, kisses one of the guests and Pippa secretly takes pictures of it. And then it also starts to snow very hard. Things get completely out of hand when Feline disappears without a trace and the other three girls find Pippa’s dog dead behind the garden shed … turns out to be very annoying to say the least. Kim becomes trapped, Abby – who has a boyfriend (Gijs Blom) at home, kisses one of the guests and Pippa secretly takes pictures of it. And then it also starts to snow very hard. Things get completely out of hand when Feline disappears without a trace and the other three girls find Pippa’s dog dead behind the garden shed … turns out to be very annoying to say the least. Kim becomes trapped, Abby – who has a boyfriend (Gijs Blom) at home, kisses one of the guests and Pippa secretly takes pictures of it. And then it also starts to snow very hard. Things get completely out of hand when Feline disappears without a trace and the other three girls find Pippa’s dog dead behind the garden shed …

Those who watch thrillers more often will recognize many red herrings and familiar tricks: the scary man who suddenly shows up at an abandoned gas station, a terrifying silhouette can be seen behind a window, one of the girls is claustrophobic, another is behaving strangely. We have also often seen the fact that the girls get snowed in and (partly because of this) completely lose contact with the outside world (because: no mobile coverage). Original cannot be called ‘False’. And credibility is also hard to find. That there is friction between the girls – at least between Kim, Abby and Pippa, because Feline only hangs a bit – is obvious, but could have been worked out better. Kim is jealous that she now has to share Abby with Pippa, who in turn manipulates because she knows that her friendship with Abby will never become as close as that between Kim and Abby. Familiar youth themes such as bullying, jealousy, boyfriends, sexuality and insecurity are all discussed. It is thanks to the talented cast that we are drawn into the story. Especially Olivia Lonsdale (‘Prins’, 2015), by far the most intriguing of the whole bunch, seizes the opportunity to give her not too elaborate character something special.

Clichés, little originality and implausible – it can all be said of ‘Vals’. The film has a different ending than the book, which may take some getting used to (or even a shock) for fans of the bestseller. It is not clear why this choice was made exactly, but this ending does not work out too well. The idea behind it is intriguing, but the effect is totally unbelievable. In addition, things are explained way too much. Perhaps because the target group is still young, but they don’t like to be underestimated either. ‘Vals’ is an entertaining thriller with a lot of shortages, but which, thanks to a nice atmosphere and smooth, talented protagonists, still manages to keep going.

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