It’s rare that I come across a film based on the depiction of lore that I am not too familiar with. Ove Valeskog’s HULDRA: LADY OF THE FOREST is one of those films and it seemed as if it would be a nice breath of fresh air from my typical viewing preferences. With that said, I was excited to get into it. To give you a better understanding of the plot, I turned to IMDB who did a stellar job of breaking down the film:
“Nanna lives a lonely and regimented life in Berlin. When her life crashes she receives a phone call from her long lost love, Martin, who reminds her of their carefree childhood. Martin wants her to join him for a hike in the wilderness together with some of their mutual childhood friends. One of them, Peter (The Swede), has been told of a strange hermitic hippie-like society out in the Swedish wilderness and the group set off on an adventure unaware of the fact that once they reach their destination nothing will ever be the same again.”
Considering this is a film about friends in the woods, it’s not your “run of the mill” horror in the woods story. As aforementioned, I knew very little about the lore of the Huldra and as I watched this movie, a nagging thought kept at the back of my mind. I’ve been planning camping trips this summer and now I may be reconsidering those plans (nervous laugh).
One thing I must admit is that I had an ever so slightly difficult time following the movie. Primarily because its transition between English, Swedish, and German were during scenes that were important to the plot. However, the imagery is what helped me piece things together. There is also symbolism represented throughout the film that assisted in my understanding of certain events or scenes.
Seeing as how the working budget was $75,000, I felt like they did a bang up job keeping the films camera work effective which was probably one of the biggest selling points to me. A lot of the creative aspects of the film were solely reliant on the cinematography which was trippy or psychedelic during particular dream sequences or daylight visions cast by the Huldra. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that this movie definitely has some psychedelic components to it. Almost like a psilocybin induced battle of wits and survival. Oh, and the forest that the film was shot was stunning, like something from a Peter Jackson movie.
The last half of the film is what pieced everything together for me and put my mind at east. This left me feeling less inquisitive of the film but more so towards the lore in which the film is based around. It also brought me back to something I’ve always thought: never trust a goddamn hippie!
As for the acting, I didn’t see it falling short at all. Nanna (Rebecca Labbe) played a very smart, strong and intuitive character that really satisfied my never ending desire for a strong female lead in a film. Women kick ass in horror films and that’s why I tend to lean more towards the slasher genre with my personal preferences. Another character I feel necessary to mention was Harald (Hand Müller), who was also played by Fredrick Wagner during the “flashbacks”. Harald sheds light on the importance of mother Earth and does what he knows to protect the forest. From the way that he looks, to his obvious meticulously planned out actions, he almost stole the movie in my mind. He was a creep and a a badass to say the least and I loved him for that.
One thing to keep in mind before watching HULDRA is that it’s a film of warning, a film of dread and it doesn’t provide the type of redemption people typically seek in our beloved genre. I will give HULDRA an A+ in creativity, entertainment and for providing me with a film I can never forget nor have ever experienced before. I honestly can’t really compare this movie or suggest it to “fans of…” but I will say to definitely check it out if you get the opportunity.