Review: The thrill of a kill

The splatter-exploitation film The Thrill of a kill is possibly the goriest film made in Norway, but also a surprisingly entertaining horror film.

Made on a budget of 30.000 kr (around 5000 dollars), The thrill of a kill is Norway’s newest horror film, and considering it was made by friends and acquaintances for less than what American low budget films spend on catering, it is an impressive effort. Plenty of gore, hot babes, sick rednecks and real remote cabins in the woods is not an everyday experience from the Nordic region.

As an ordinary teen, Kimsy has fights with her mother and one day, when she is tired of the nagging, she leaves the house and takes a walk in the forest. Kimsy and her family lives in the Trysil area, so the forests are huge, and can hide anyone and anything. Suddenly she is struck down, and wakes up with most of her clothes removed. She gets up, finds her clothes… and is struck down again, with even more clothes removed! This is only the beginning of endless degradation, torture, rape, pain and humiliation, on Kimsy’s part and several other female victims.

These ultra-low-budget “amateur” movies are not for everyone, but as there are no studio interference or government censorship involved, it is possible to go very far. With The thrill of a kill, producer/writer/director Lars Erik Lie went all the way in order to make the goriest splatter film ever made in Norway, and additionally, he succeeded in making an entertaining horror film. Occasionally poor on dialogue and a few script weaknesses (such as, why are candles lit when there is full daylight outside), but these minor glitches are easily overlooked as the story progresses and the blood squirts faster. The 84 minute film has a nice build and one always wants to know what happens next, as anything can happen, and does happen! And, unlike other Scandinavian horror films, The thrill of a kill does not have one or two money-shots, but several, and they are nicely spread out. Throats are opened, tongues are cut, penises are severed – graphically and in plain vision. Even so, the film is not just another torture porno as such, that would be a too weak description. Other subgenres such as rape-revenge and mountain cannibals applies as well, with hate of mothers also coming into the equation; the film explains to a great extent why things happen, a bonus that elevates the film from shocking terror to a good story. Perhaps not an original nor innovative story (also when considering the forest setting, where 90% of Norwegian horror films take place), but at least a complete story, which cannot be said of all movies with 100 times the budget.

Another bonus is the forest serial killer himself, played by Arve Herman Tangen. At first you think the actor underacts and delivers his lines like a wooden stick found in the forest around him, but his naïve dialogue and everyday approach to humiliation and torture makes him so much more creepy than a masked killer pretending to be insane. At one point the killer says, “I am just a normal family father” which I assume is very true – in Norway we don’t have many serial killers but most psychopaths appear to be normal to the people around them. This almost child-like approach to murder and mayhem, as if he were playing an innocent game in a sandbox populated by dolls, adds a level of horror that no blood can achieve. It also makes the performance better, compared to what might have been if an unskilled amateur actor tried to “act” serialkiller-like. Tom Lindgren, who plays a hermit, is also worth a note as the most hillbilly redneck ever seen in Norwegian horror fare.

Finally, in an offbeat film like this which is aimed at hardcore horror fans, it must be mentioned that the film offers enough naked skin and good looking girls to compensate for all the gruesomeness. Kirsten Jakobsen plays the curvavious Kimsy and Camilla Vestbø Losvik plays her sexy goth sister, who is not forgotten by the serial killer either, and removes her clothes before he proceeds. By Norwegian standards, The thrill of a kill goes quite far in terms of exploitive nudity, although compared to the same-league The whore, no limits are pushed. I am still waiting for the ultimate Norwegian sleaze film.

It is sad that horror films like this cannot get proper funding in Scandinavia. With better photography and professional actors, real splatter films would not only become cult favourites on video but could also be exported to bigger markets. As this film proves, imagination and special effects are already in place among underground creators, ready to be exploited. The thrill of a kill is one of the best movies of its kind this year, thanks to creators and actors daring to go that extra step.

Rated 8 of 10.

Directed by Lars Erik Lie.

Norway, 2011 (released 2012).

Note: The film comes out on DVD from AWE in May 2012. Check out the official website for news.