As I made my way up the seldom used staircase to the attic I could hear the wood groaning under my feet. I rarely need to be up there where essentially it has turned into one large storage room. As I lifted the door open at the top of the stairs I began to take in air that had not moved in years. Walking through the clothes bins, one of them attracted my eye. Through its semiopaque lid I saw the outline of some animal. I opened the bin and lying on top was a sweater I used to wear years ago. It was purchased during a period of time where Nordic themed fashion was the rage. This copper colored sweater with the image of a large antlered stag across the front was something I thought was the coolest thing back then. Everyone back then was wearing sweaters with various images of animals in winter scenes splayed across their chest. If the sleeves had multicolored yarns woven partially up the sides, the sweater was extra cool. I started to remember those times where all of us appeared to have had more fun, less responsibilities and less news that horrified us like it does these days. As the sunlight falling in from the one small window at the front of the attic began to dim; I put back the sweater, found the item I was originally looking for and came downstairs. That was the last time I reveled in those type of memories of an easier carefree past until I saw this fun retro action film. AFTER surviving the crash of Air Force One in a remote area of Finland President William Alan Moore, played Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers franchise, Reasonable Doubt), had to depend on 13 year old Oskari, played by Omni Tommila (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Last Cowboy Standing), who was in the middle of a village ritual to being considered a man. Time would not be an abundant commodity for either of them. This adventure film was a hoot to watch with its throwback style and story. I enjoyed seeing Samuel toning it down to play a more submissive type of character than he normally portrays. The cast which included Ray Stevens (The Book of Eli, Divergent franchise) as Morris and Felicity Huffman (Transamerica, Desperate Housewives-TV) as the CIA director all looked like they enjoyed playing their characters. The story was somewhat predictable and cheesy; but I think that was what the writers were trying to do to create this picture that reminded me of those action movies from the 1980s and 90s. This was a fun no-frills film that favored a class of movies from a distant past. Several scenes had spoken Finnish with English subtitles.
2 1/2 stars
Almost every town, neighborhood and village has its own folk tales. In the neighborhood where I grew up there were 2 houses that all of us kids believed were haunted. One house was perched on the corner of my block. Painted in a dark brown color, there were curling vines that creeped up the sides of the house scarring the paint off the wood, leaving the brooding house looking wounded. The other house was a couple of blocks away from our apartment but I never ventured by its rounded gate that had spikes on the top. My friends and I knew not to stop at these houses during Halloween. In my travels I have come across an area’s legends and stories; some had a fun quirkiness to them while others were used to explain the unexplainable. In this adventure fantasy film I loved the folklore presented to set up the story. While a mysterious archaeological dig was taking place in the mountains above the village; young Pietari Kontio, played by Onni Tommila (Last Cowboy Standing) noticed several children had gone missing right before Christmas. This film festival winning movie captured my attention immediately even with it also being considered a horror film. Set in the mountains of Finland, I felt I was transported to the coldness of the town as little clues were being dropped to the viewer, leading us like a lamb to slaughter. I knew no one in the cast, such as Jorma Tommila (Priest of Evil, Sisters Apart) as Pietari’s father Rauno and Tommi Korpela (The Home of Dark Butterflies, A Man’s Job) as Aimo; but it did not matter, it only heightened my belief that I was watching the actual town folk. The story was wickedly dark and amusing at the same time; I just found it creative in a twisted sort of way. Now I have no idea whether this tale was actually based on some true folk legend, but I found it to be a brilliant method to keep the viewer guessing as the plot unfolded. It was amazing to me how the writers took basic things most of us knew or had heard of and turned them into something different with sinister overtones. If you plan on seeing this picture be prepared because there were a couple of gruesome scenes. As some of you know I am not a big fan of horror movies, but I have to tell you I had a great time watching this film. It certainly gave a new meaning to the phrase, “…who was naughty or nice.” There were a couple of scenes with blood that some may find disturbing. Finnish with English subtitles.
3 1/4 stars — DVD