The Unthinkable Review: Sweden finds itself under attack from an unknown assailant in this haunting thriller.
The Swedish are renowned for their Scandi Noir television shows and yet they’ve yet to make a real impression on the cinematic world. That might all be about to change though with the rather brilliant The Unthinkable (Den blomstertid nu kommer in it’s native tongue). Set primarily in Vänge, The Unthinkable tells the story of Alex (Christoffer Nordenrot), a famous pianist. After the death of his mother, he must return to his childhood town, a place littered with bad memories and missed opportunities. As if that wasn’t enough to contend with, the whole of Sweden finds itself under a diabolical terror attack, and Alex must do everything he can to survive.
The Unthinkable starts in December 2005 wherein we meet Alex at a critical life stage. We spend a lot of time in this period, building characters, relationships and traumas, which will have to be confronted later on. Director Victor Danell uses a slowly, softly approach with the narrative, and the film is all the better for it. By spending time with Alex, his father Björn (Jesper Barkselius), and the love of Alex’s life, Anna (Lisa Henni), you get a real sense as to who everyone is, a factor that becomes very important later on. By pacing the story so deliberately, Danell generates intrigue, drama, and an air of mystery that makes the story that much more compelling.
After everyone has been set-up we join a grown-up Alex in what one presumes is modern day. The transition between times is very clever and skirts the typical ‘x amount of years later’ graphic. Grown-up Alex has emotionally closed himself off from the world around him. After past events, he is now estranged from Björn and hasn’t seen Anna in at least a decade. Confronting the people from his past forms a big portion of our story, the mystery attack taking a bit of a backseat in order to really focus in on wringing every ounce of evocation out of the characters and emotions.
It’s not all heavy relationship drama though as there is that terror threat. It ticks away subtly in the background for a long time before taking centre stage. Once it’s unleashed, The Unthinkable kicks-up several notches and everything gets way more frantic. The stunt-work is incredible, I’ve not seen so many cars flying through the air since the last Fast film. This is a film that clearly had a budget, and the filmmakers have utilised every penny to get the best of everything. Honestly, the action sequences on display hold up to any Hollywood blockbuster and, given the slow pace of the rest of the film, inject some unexpected spectacle.
Visually, the film is stunning, the cinematography highlights the beauty of the surrounds and features some rather breathtaking imagery of rain and mist. The score too is suitably haunting and atmospheric. Combined together they perfectly compliment Danell’s vision, and it makes The Unthinkable a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable viewing experience.
The Unthinkable review, Kat Hughes, October 2018.
The Unthinkable was reviewed at the Arrow Video Frightfest Halloween 2018.