Thursday, April 25, 2013

In short: Kuutamosonaatti (1988)

Because she was mildly naughty, her agency ships model Anni (Tiina Björkman) off for a few days away from the limelight. Anni ends up in a hut somewhere far out in the Finnish countryside, with her teenage brother Johannes (Kim Gunell) supposedly bound to follow the next day.

Of course, we all know about the pleasures of country life from many a horror movie, so it'll come as no surprise when Anni's closest neighbours turn out to be rather peculiar. The Kyyröläs consist of a religiously crazy Mum (Soli Labbart), her panty-stealing giggling crazy son Arvo (Kari Sorvali) and Sulo (Mikko Kivinen), the son so crazy the family locks him up in the root cellar so he doesn't roam the snowy woods at night, howling like a wolf.

Needless to say, pretty Anni soon awakens the interest of Arvo, whose particular type of country hospitality becomes increasingly threatening. Cue "Dueling Banjos".

As is obvious by now, Olli Soinio's Finnish backwoods horror film Kuutamosonaatti (which translates into "Moonlight Sonata") sets out to prove that the language of evil, unwashed country people hunting much prettier city folk is very much an international one. And what could be better than to use the rural landscape of your (sometimes metaphorical) backyard if you're making a low budget movie?

As far as the violence goes, the film at hand is on the more harmless side of its genre. There aren't all that many characters to kill off gorily, and the film prefers a mixture of dry, off-beat humour which my very basic knowledge of Finnish film and music interprets as typical of the country, and classic tricks of suspense and thriller filmmaking as brought down to us by Hitchcock (who even has a kind of guest appearance).

While that may disappoint the gore hounds among its audience, Kuutamosonaatti's suspense scenes were effective enough to keep me interested. Sure, there's a degree of silliness to the set-up of various scenes you need to ignore to enjoy the film on a straightforward level, but if you do, there's a pretty tight low budget movie to enjoy.

Additionally, if you've seen as many backwoods horror movies as I have, you learn to enjoy the slight differences in local colour, and Kuutamosonaatti's well photographed snowy North of Finland provides a marked and pleasant difference in a genre generally taking place in the woods somewhere in Backwoodlandia, USA. There are also too few tractor chase scenes in the genre outside of Finland.

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