Review: Cecilie

As the perhaps leading film nation in the Nordic region, Denmark has produced few horror hits. Cecilie will not help their track record, even though it has potentional to be shown on TV everywhere.

Cecilie is about Cecilie Larsen, a school teacher who moves into a new house (and a new job) with her husband. The idyllic life seems to move on nicely, but soon Cecilie starts to experience scary visions, physical trauma and inexplicable memories. Her husband and doctor think she is becoming psychotic, and she is committed to hospital. She escapes, but that only serves to get her even more entangled into horrifying events that took place before she was born.

No doubt was this movie made to appeal to a mainstream audience, including and maybe in particular TV viewers. The overall feel and look of the film, as well as the Spielberg-esque “things look normal to start with” story, seems very designed to push the “right” buttons of an audience that doesn’t have a special interest in horror films. In other words, the film will only be relevant as a horror film to casual viewers who are not so experienced. The buttons that are pushed are either predictable clichés, or the very big button called “atmosphere”. The first 2/3 of the film depends heavily on visual moods and lightning, something that in a good horror film would serve to support an interesting story or spectacular effects. Cecilie has none of those, so the creepy atmosphere tries to sustain itself without much luck. Only in the last 30 minutes does the film achieve anything close to real tension and terror, not only because the violence picks up speed but because the story finally is getting a point. This point should have been elaborated more, as the “twist” of the film is quickly exhausted in the first parts of the film.

Good points include the actors; they do not appear “Scandinavian wooden” and seem to take their job seriously enough. Horror movies do not give actors credibility, but it is still essential to the film that they believe in what they do. Additionally, the casting department found the right actors, as they add their personas well to the story, even though the personas too are clichés. The special effects at the end of the movie are good too (not spectacular or fantastic, but good) although there is far too little of it to mean anything to gore fans. Unfortunately, any good technical aspect does not balance out the meager story, which could perhaps have been compressed to a 30 minute short.

Cecilie is a completely unnecessary film, and needs not only a heavy rewrite, but also a director with visions. Now it is merely a hack job, ordered by producers who wanted to sell “something horror” to middle aged housewifes.

Directed by Hans Fabian Wullenweber.

Denmark, 2007.

Rated 4 of 10.