As far as horror films go, there were numerous hidden gems this year, which are always the most rewarding to find. When Animals Dream is one of those gems. This solemn werewolf horror-drama remains very modern, while also keeping some classic undertones. I found many elements of this film to be enjoyable, and its overall melancholy and heroic ambiance to be right in my wheelhouse.
When Animals Dream follows Marie, a young Danish girl of nineteen who begins to undergo physical and mental changes from an inherited family trait. Rather quiet in nature, we see Marie transform and descend from her average life into that of her primal fate. While this transformation is taking place, secrets become unearthed about this beastly family curse, leaving Marie with a universal conundrum; subdue your changes and become a lifeless drone (like her comatose mother), or release yourself completely, allowing your true nature to take control.
When it comes to films, I am one for perfect tone, a good story, and intelligent metaphors. I enjoy analyzing and interpreting important meanings, whether the director meant for them or not. When Animals Dream provides me with these elements and allows my mind to wander. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film to be more relevant to the saying “the beast within.”
The representation of humans as the true animals is very cataclysmic, and a fact we are all too familiar with. This tiny Denmark town that reeks of fish appears quiet and average, but actually contains townsfolk that are willing to grab their torches and pitchforks in the most modern of ways. How they treat Marie is inhumane, which involves getting slapped with raw fish and being hunted down like, well…an animal. But, throughout this sea of negativity, she does find support and refuge within her family, and from a loving co-worker named Daniel.
Overall, this is an entertaining film that’s made well. Everything fits together like a scary puzzle - from the storyline, down to the atmospheric back alley-sounding squeezebox within the film’s score. This indie horror flick reminds the viewer to embrace your true self, because at the end of the day, that’s who you are. Despite the cruelest of people, you will always get love and support from the ones that care… even if you are a werewolf.