Horror is a movie genre where the concept of pushing limits is possible and expected; maybe that’s why the Danish feature A God Without a Universe became a horror drama rather than just another bleak Scandinavian kitchen sink filler.
Made on a shoestring budget of 60.000 DKK (around 8000 euros) and released in 2015, A God Without a Universe (original title; Gudsforladt, meaning godforsaken) deals with such difficult and controversial topics as sex, violence and incest. Kasper Juhl, a figure in the Danish underground film scene, left the gore behind in favour of psychological trauma in his “social body-horror” film that by some has been compared to certain movies by David Cronenberg. Throughout the film, more characters than usual represent the dark pits of humanity through their character flaws, addictions and deviances.
After several years in prison, Anders (Johannes Nymark) is finally released. His sister Mia (Anne Sofie Adelsparre) is looking forward to a reconnection and to rediscover their close bond. However, the past is not easy to escape and the two siblings’ brutal childhood still haunts them both. Anders quickly falls back into old destructive habits, while Mia soon discovers a much more sinister side of herself and the people around her. -I [play] a stupid pig [of a man] who rapes his sister, lead actor Johannes Nymark said to the Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet.
The 94 minute film (which we briefly reported on in 2014 under its working title A.G.W.A.U.) won the Best Film award at the Dutch BUT Festival. -I am very proud that our movie won the main award, both because it was a challenge to make it [and because] it is made with pure love for the genre, Nymark said to the publication Billed-Bladet. BUT stands for B-movie, Underground, Trash – informal labels that count more Nordic genre films than their more expensive mainstream competitors.
A God Without a Universe has received mostly favourable reviews, and is currently holding a decent 6.8 score at Imdb.
Cineasten.dk wrote: “There are some films that are so disgusting and hit you so hard that it is almost impossible to watch them again, A God Without a Universe is one of them […] The sex is disturbing and the most normal [of that kind] is what goes on between the two siblings […] A film that shows the most depraved in this world. If you have a grin on your face after watching [this movie] you are a douchebag and I never want to meet you.
BeneathTheUnderground.com wrote: “…I’ve seen a lot of sick shit, and this film manages to slither its way up my list without using tons of gore. It has some disturbing gore, some disturbing sex, and some disturbing violence. It somehow manages to capitalize on all of it, without going over-the-top, like other films of the extreme variety.”
Kulturkapellet.dk wrote: “[The film] experiments with the horror repertoire, in particular that of the slasher, but in contrast to the slasher where the violence is expected, the violence here is not nice to watch […] This meeting between social realism and horror is well thought out […] Kasper Juhl shows that his abilities stretch far beyond his well executed new extremety, and that he now has all the good cards in his hand to get his big break in Danish film […] The movie is evil but will do good to Juhl’s career.”
CinemaOnline.dk rated the film 5 of 6 and wrote: “If you are ready for a tough round, where all the taboos you can think of are broken in 90 minutes, this is a movie for you. Fortunately it is also more than that, and deserves to be seen by a big audience around the world. A fresh breath in Danish cinema.”
A God Without a Universe was written and directed by Kasper Juhl, and produced by Michelle Brøndum. Starring Ann Hjort, Joachim Knop, Peter Aude, Mads Knarreborg, Johannes Nymark, Anne Sofie Adelsparre, Siff Andersson, Tommas Capion, Anna Emilie Langsted, Sonny Lindberg, Marie-Louise Damgaard Nielsen, Paw Terndrup.
Interview with the film’s director and producer: