If you ever happen to stumble upon a woman in the woods, and it seems like maybe she hasn’t been exposed to civilization in a while, just run. Run as fast as you can and don’t look back until you’re surrounded by buildings and human beings. If she isn’t dangerous, and she probably is, danger is certainly nearby.
Elvis (Erlend Nervold) and Leo (Jon Sigve Skard) work for No Shit Cleaning Service. We meet them as they are cleaning up after a dead body has been discovered. Actually Leo is cleaning and Elvis is puking. It turns out he is only filling in for someone else but it appears that he and Leo know each other.
Leo gets a call about a new job, a very messy one in a rural area. An old man’s remains have been “spread around” by wild animals. Upon entering the man’s home they discover some kind of underground bunker. Among other things, it contains a bath tub and documents showcasing anatomical drawings. An attached room has a bed. Someone has been living down there.
As the men wander around the bunker, a woman leaps suddenly leaps out of the bath tub. Her name is Thale (Silje Reinamo). She doesn’t speak and is extremely frightened. As Leo makes a call to his employer about their discovery, Elvis keeps an eye on Thale in the bunker while listening to tapes made by the dead man that drop clues as to who Thale is.
Apparently, Thale has been down there for a long time. The dead man (via the tapes and voiceover) explains that she was found earlier than her sisters and there is hope for her. Around this time, the strangeness kicks into high gear. A cut-off tail is in a freezer in the bunker. Something is clearly in the woods surrounding the house. The unease builds slowly but surely and there’s a palpable sense of dread. Bad stuff is definitely going to happen.
The things in the woods are known as huldra in Scandinavian folklore. They are exceptionally freaky “deviants hiding in the wilderness,” as one character puts it. The huldra and some mysterious individuals are hunting Thale. Leo and Elvis get caught up in the middle. Blood will be spilled.
Unfortunately, after an effective build up, the carnage is over quickly. The same can be said of the movie itself. It clocks in at a mere 70 minutes (not including credits) and is too short. With excellent performances by the three leads and an appropriately ominous tone, it comes as a disappointment when the action suddenly leaves the house in the woods and makes way for a sappy conclusion that feels completely out of place here.
Despite the letdown of an ending, Thale remains an unsettling tale with unusual, fascinating creatures and a healthy dose of haunting imagery.
Thale arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.S. on April 23rd.