Directed by: Jonas Alexander Arnby | 84 minutes | drama, horror | Actors: Sonia Suhl, Lars Mikkelsen, Sonja Richter, Jakob Oftebro, Mads Riisom, Gustav Dyekjær Giese, Esben Dalgaard, Stig Hoffmeyer, Benjamin Boe Rasmussen, Tina Gylling Mortensen
At first glance, Marie is a young girl like so many. Sometimes a bit surly and not happy with her new job: cleaning fish in the factory. The gray harbor town where she lives with father and mother is nothing special either. Yet Marie’s life is not commonplace. Her mother is confined to a wheelchair due to a mysterious ailment. A mysterious red spot has also appeared on Marie’s chest, one that is slowly spreading.
This intriguing plot is the driving force behind “When Animals Dream”, a Danish film that combines social drama with supernatural horror. The drama lies in Marie’s family situation, her friendship with the handsome Daniel and her enmity with the rest of the town. The supernatural horror lies in that red stain and where it eventually degenerates.
This combination of social drama and horror is reminiscent of “Låt den rätte komma in” from 2008. This Swedish classic is about the friendship between a bullied boy and an ancient girl vampire. “When Animals Dream” only never reaches the level of that predecessor. ‘Låt den rätte komma in’ took place in a snowy town somewhere in 1970s Sweden. Enhanced by the atmospheric cinematography of Hoyte van Hoytema, that historical setting gave the film a surreal feel, in which the supernatural found an ideal place . Within the gray-gray reality of “When Animals Dream”, the supernatural kills instantly.
That does not mean that there is nothing to be gained. The acting is of a high level, the story intrigues from the first second, there are some tense moments and of course we sympathize with our grumpy heroine. The way the town tackles its problems is also refreshing.
“When Animals Dream” is a nice pastime for while it lasts. But where “Låt den rätte komma in” got an American remake in no time, no one will expect that with this film. Even if you never know with those Americans.