Review: Svart Snø


svart snö teaser posterIf your teacher gets fired for making violent movies during the weekends, would you not be curious about those movies? Svart Snø is a politically incorrect black comedy that pisses on the establishment, and then some.

Set in the days between Christmas and New Years Eve, the story is told in a series of reverse flahbacks, and because of that, you need to pay attention. Basically, the film is about Steinar, a guy who is on his way home from a business trip. He looses his memory in a car accident, and untangles himself via various situations that are more or less violent and confusing.

Svart Snø (meaning “black snow”) is made up of silly, weird, freaky and extreme characters and there seems to be no normality anywhere. That may be the global concept of the movie, because the film is one long satirical take on various societal issues, with sensible retroreflecting badges playing a key role. These common sense lifesavers symbolize the opposite of the characters, who are less than sensible in more than one way. Or can it be that THEY are the sensible ones, and the world around them is sick?

Made on a budget of around 10.000 dollars (which came from teacher/director Wang’s severance pay – how ironic is that?), this is another one of those tiny budget Norwegian indies that pop up now and then. However, unlike The whore or The thrill of a kill, Svart Snø  is not a horror movie or an exploitation film. There is some gore, violence and sex that puts the movie in some kind of genre environment, but satire dominates, in a world where everyone has something to hide. A bit like Twin Peaks, where something is always going on and nobody are what they seem to be, but made on that show’s weekly catering budget. Vibes from the 90s classic Falling down would also not be out of place here.

If this is an extreme film, it is because of said satire, which is coming through on several levels; the TV show within the movie, where a blond, racist barista educates us about proper coffee making – the extras, where Wang shows us how he was refused to film at the airport but managed to do it anyway – and of course, the dialogue, which is is mostly punchlines, jokes and foul language all the way through. Forget this film if you demand some kind of Rowan Atkinson type comedy or any of the boring American comedians – that’s not where the fun in this movie lies. The laughs come from the parodical characters and story, which may or may not be familiar ground to you. Wether you “get” the film, depends on your references and ability to interpret the movie. As such, the film is not merely entertainment, but a real contribution to the debate on norms, something which is both a strength and a weakness for this film. The movie may be too talky and conceptual for some – others may appreciate the ideas.

And, let’s face it; the film is a spare time project by amateurs, however talented they may be, and not everyone is going to see past the low budget surface of the movie. Present are the typical technical shortcomings of home-made movies; sound, images, acting, etc. While there are some stunts and action scenes that go beyond many other similar movies, even a martial arts sequence, those scenes are not enough to keep discerning fans happy (trash film fans will consider them nice bonuses, though). The positives must be found between the meta frames of the film, which is a challenge for this type of film, but in this particular case you don’t need to look far to understand there is more here than bad acting and hillbillies with guns.

It can’t be denied that Svart Snø is a highly creative entry into the Norwegian underground film scene. Remember what you read at the top, about the teacher being fired for not complying with the moral code? Let’s just say that the movie confirms the suspicion, which – if nothing else – makes it one of the most original almost-no-budet movies I have seen.

Rated 6 of 10.

Directed by Kenny Wang.

Norway, 2014.