Film Reviews

Thelma review: “A truly mesmerising, unpredictable thriller”

Joachim Trier‘s harrowing supernatural thriller Thelma comes to UK cinemas on the 3rd of November, so if you haven’t quite had enough horror this Halloween; why not check out Thelma before the festive season is upon us and we’re forced to endure Home Alone for the 100th time?

The movie teases the same trepidation as Stephen King’s film adaptations, the narrative is a destitute portrayal of unnerving desire of a terrified protagonist, right from the opening sequence you’re entrenched as you follow Thelma through this bludgeoning catastrophic thriller. If you’re a fan of cult-classic The Craft; the best way to describe Thelma is to compare it as on overtly pious variation, only with better landscapes. The film is set in a verdant glacial town, the rippling, dark setting extends the melancholy which fans of the Sky Atlantic show Fortitude revelled in.

Trier swamps Thelma (Eili Harboe) in agonising alienation and fear from the start. We greet her as a child, the fresh-faced epitome of innocence in the heart of the forests of Norway. Thelma is accompanied by her absurdly terrifying father Trond (Henrik Rafaelsen) who portrays an unhinged archetypal male antagonist with his almost cliché Christian brand oppression which he inflicts upon his daughter, whose unambiguous terror reigns over her throughout the film and fuels us with existential dread.

Fast forward to teenage Thelma, and we’re just in time to learn of her harrowing coming of age story after she’s enrolled at university in Oslo. The expertly drawn-out scenes portray the pensive melancholy of destitution that we’re forced to endure as we come into our own. There’s enough character progression within Thelma’s story to make your head spin while you’re trying to figure out where the heart of the horror lies. Thelma’s problems start to become apparent after meeting the enigmatic femme fatale Anja (Kaya Wilkins).

Throughout Thelmayou’re desperate to see the monster behind the evil, but her story isn’t that straightforward. Her parents make Norma Bates look like she could win parent of the year and further secrets aren’t unveiled until later on. There are so many layers weaved into the characters which leads to an infinite amount of possibilities of how to the tale of Thelma is about to unravel, leading the plot away from predictability almost entirely.  Which is why you’ll find no spoilers here!

Harboe’s acting alongside Trier’s deft direction made for a compelling tale, it was a truly mesmerising portrayal of alienation, frustration, and perhaps most poignantly of all; the guilt of desiring the forbidden.

Check out the trailer below for a sneak peek; Thelma opens in UK cinemas on Friday 3 November

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