Review: Insane

In the 90s, director Anders Jacobsson made one of the most culty of all Swedish cult films. His most recent horror film, the low budget Insane, attempts to bring back the terror of the slashers of the 80s.

insane stabbing

As part of the Swedish independent movie scene, director Anders Jacobsson har built a certain reputation largely thanks to his 1995 cult film Evil Ed. His most recent film Insane (which was co-directed by Tomas Sandquist, a first-timer) was therefore much anticipated by horror fans. It’s the story about a young woman, Jenny, who travels from hotel to hotel on the Swedish countryside to locate her sister, which has been missing for weeks. Jenny arrives at the remote Bridgeburn Hotel and asks the manager if he has seen her sister. He hasn’t, and Jenny checks in for the night. But then she starts to get suspicious of the motel, which is not only remote but also creepy…

This isn’t exactly the most innovative story, and I am sure you can smell the traditional slasher killer from where you are sitting. The hotel manager is quite Norman Bates-ish too, as is the overall story. That’s part of the concept, however, because Insane holds nothing back when it comes to tributes and genre clichés. If this isn’t a throwback to 80s teen slashers, I am Bruce Campbell. The remote-hotel-that-kills-you subgenre of horror movies owes much to The Shining and Psycho, which both are all over this movie, down to the psycho wallpapers. Insane succeeds in building a creepy atmosphere (just like what works so perfect in The Shining) and tops it off with gruesome gore, a combination that always works well. That isn’t the only good part about this film though; not only are the main actors doing an excellent job (especially considering they are Swedish and actually speak English), in particular Lars Bethke, but their characters are well written, and we learn enough about both the killer and the heroine to sympathize. In fact, as the killer is always the interesting character in such movies, we do get to dig deep into his psyche, and the truth is quite horrific in itself, and absolutely justifying his actions! On the other hand, the story could have used a few more characters to give the “who dunnit” game a few more options. As it is now, the story is rather predictable.

insanse jaw

Surprisingly well shot and lighted, Insane also looks much more expensive than what I assume it cost. At times it looks as good as well funded official Swedish television drama, especially indoor scenes. There are also a few splendid looking gore scenes. The problem is, they are so well executed that you want more, and you may feel a bit cheated in the end. However, this is the kind of movie where they could not afford to heat up the rooms properly during filming, so maybe there was no money left for more gore. In that case, as this is a movie made independently so they “could get away with more” they should have thrown in some naked skin, as that is a staple in this genre. The current version definitely holds back on nudity, of which there is practically nothing even though there were a few opportunities. For a Swedish film, this is surprising and not surprising at the same time. I guess it’s currently more politically correct to exploit violence than sex in Sweden, even with the country’s history of adult films.

Insane breaks no new ground in international terms, but is a good way to spend 90 minutes of your weekly slasher time, unless you are bothered by accents. Also, never forget it’s a low budget movie. In Swedish terms, that means almost no money at all. The DVD itself is well filled, with decent extras and English and Nordic subtitles. From the Nordic region, Insane is a job well done and one of the better slashers I’ve seen.

Rated 7 of 10.

Directed by Anders Jacobsson and Tomas Sandquist.

Sweden, 2010.

Review written by Steinar Larsen.

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