Review: Kurt Josef Wagle

kurtjosefwagle-dvdLow budget film making is sometimes a creative field, but for some it is a necessity and it doesn’t always hit the target. This movie, from the creators of Dead Snow and Kill Buljo, was probably more fun to make than it is to watch.

Following the story structure of Blair Witch Project, Kurt Josef Wagle og legenden om fjordheksa (meaning Kurt Josef Wagle and the legend of the fjord witch) tells the story of a local Northerner who assembles a crew to find his son, who is lost in the woods. Kurt Josef, the local gunhappy policeman, a female psychic, and a “simple” friend must face their fears of a local legend, the fjord witch, which is supposed to live in the area they are searching in.

The first ever mockumentary to be made in Norway, Kurt Josef Wagle does not come out as a parody of Blair Witch Project, but a parody of the whole mockumentary genre. It’s also more a low-brow comedy, and in that sense laughing at the mockumentary rather than laughing with it. It’s not even meant to be a very good mockumentary, as it is very obvious that everything is acted and staged, as opposed to the “natural behaviour” one is supposed to get in mockumentaries. Where BWP won fans because the “found footage” seemed real, Kurt Josef Wagle may win its fan because it’s so bad that the badness is the only thing it has going for it. Some details, like a fake beard, is so fake that they must have made it deliberately bad. Deliberate because of lack of money, that is. I can’t imagine how low the budget must have been for this film. While professional post-production and two of Norway’s biggest film stars, Bjørn Sundqvist and Kristoffer Joner were employed, actual shooting costs must have been close to zero.

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That is not mainly what makes the movie bad though; its forced comedy and predictable jokes do. The Kill Buljo crew is a creative and important gang in Norwegian indie cinema, but the humour in this film is either very local, or just stupid. And knowing what these guys are capable of, Kurt Josef Wagle is surprisingly low on yucky stuff, exploitation or other spectacular things that could have made up for the shortcomings in comedy. Svidd Neger (2003), also made in Northern Norway as an independent production with the ambition of going over the edge, does its thing much better.

kurtjosefwagle-stillIt’s an interesting film conceptually, but one that feels like a forced leisure project between bigger movies, and since it’s not the kind of film that works just for being interesting, you need a lot of company and alcoholic bevarage to enjoy it.

Directed by Tommy Wirkola.

Norway, 2010.

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